CHICAGO (AP) — Fourteen pitches. That was all it took.
These power-packed Minnesota Twins can pile up runs in a hurry.
Miguel Sanó hit a three-run homer in Minnesota’s five-run first inning, and the Twins pounded Dylan Covey and the Chicago White Sox 11-1 on Sunday to strengthen their hold on the AL Central.
Jorge Polanco, Jonathan Schoop and Max Kepler also connected as Minnesota ran its major league-leading total to 205 home runs. The Twins went deep 11 times while taking three of four in the series and moved two games ahead of second-place Cleveland, which lost 9-6 at Kansas City.
“Our guys have had really quality at-bats all year long, from day one,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think they feed off each other at times.”
Covey (1-7) threw 14 pitches and failed to get an out in his 10th start of the season. After Polanco’s 16th homer made it 2-0, Nelson Cruz and Luis Arraez singled before Sanó chased Covey with an opposite-field drive just inside the foul pole in right.
“We don’t find the pitches he throws. We find the pitches we want to hit,” Sanó said, “and that’s one of the biggest points when you go hit.”
It was Sanó’s fourth homer in his last six games and No. 18 on the year. The big first baseman finished with three hits and scored twice.
“He makes the ballpark look very, very small,” Baldelli said. “He doesn’t have to exert himself very hard to hit a ball over the fence.”
It was more than enough for Kyle Gibson (10-4), who struck out nine in six effective innings. The right-hander improved to 9-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 16 career starts against Chicago.
The White Sox played without slumping All-Stars José Abreu and James McCann, who each got the day off for rest. Abreu is batting .200 since the break, and McCann is hitting just .178 with 31 strikeouts this month.
Covey was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after Chicago’s fifth loss in six games.
“Disappointed with myself. Disappointed, but reset is a good word for it,” Covey said. “I believe I’ll be back. I have the stuff to be here.”
Jon Jay hit an RBI single in the sixth to account for Chicago’s only run. The White Sox had the bases loaded with no outs, but Gibson wiggled out of the jam by striking out Eloy Jiménez, Welington Castillo and AJ Reed to end the inning.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria was thrown out by umpire Angel Hernandez after Jiménez looked at a called third strike for the first out. It was Renteria’s sixth ejection of the season.
SLEEP IS OVERRATED
Sergio Romo got the day off after hopping on an early flight to join the Twins in Chicago after the veteran reliever was acquired in a trade with Miami on Saturday night. Right-hander Carlos Torres was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
The Twins begin a three-game series against the Marlins on Tuesday night, but Romo had no interest in meeting his new team in Florida.
“There’s no waiting,” Romo said. “This is Major League Baseball and we’re in the second half and we’re really trying to make a playoff push, so I’ve got to be here.”
Reed worked a perfect ninth for Chicago. The first baseman became the second position player to pitch for the White Sox this year.
“Besides the score, I had a lot of fun,” he said.
Twins: Sanó said he was OK after he tweaked his left wrist trying to make a play on Castillo’s leadoff single in the fifth.
White Sox: Jiménez (bruised ulnar nerve) was activated from the 10-day injured list and went 0 for 3 while serving as the designated hitter. The rookie outfielder got hurt when he collided with teammate Charlie Tilson while chasing a long fly ball at Kansas City on July 16. INF José Rondón was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
Twins: Following an off day, RHP Jake Odorizzi (11-5, 3.84 ERA) starts at Miami on Tuesday night. Odorizzi is 1-3 with an 8.44 ERA in his last six outings. The last-place Marlins send RHP Zac Gallen (1-2, 2.76 ERA) to the mound for the opener of a three-game series.
White Sox: RHP Reynaldo López (5-9, 5.52 ERA) starts Tuesday night against the visiting New York Mets. López has a 1.71 ERA over his last three appearances. Noah Syndergaard is scheduled to pitch for New York, but that could change with the trade deadline coming up on Wednesday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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