MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — In his fifth organization in five years, Mark Payton has needed plenty of patience to make it back to the major leagues.
Just like his at-bat that led to the winning run and stopped the Chicago White Sox’s eight-game losing streak.
Payton had two hits and an RBI and sparked an eighth-inning rally by reaching on an error in a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.
“We always play this game to play in the major leagues, so I’ll keep putting my best foot forward to be the guy here,” said the 30-year-old Payton, who was recently called up by his hometown team.
Born in Orland Park, Illinois, Payton went to St. Rita High School in Chicago. He was drafted three times, first by the Twins in 2010 and last by the New York Yankees in the seventh round in 2014 out of the University of Texas. After playing in parts of the last two seasons with Cincinnati, Payton hit .293 with 25 homers and 95 RBIs in 119 games this year for Triple-A Charlotte.
In the eighth, Payton fouled off seven pitches from Caleb Thielbar (4-3) in a 12-pitch at-bat that ended with a lazy pop-up to second base. But Nick Gordon, who had a two-run double for the Twins in the first inning, flat-out dropped it for a two-base error.
“Keep battling. Just put the ball in play,” Payton said. “I don’t like to strikeout.”
Payton moved up on a wild pitch before José Abreu ripped an RBI double. Liam Hendriks pitched a perfect ninth for his 34th save for the White Sox, who moved one game ahead of the Twins at 77-79 for second place in the AL Central. Cleveland clinched the division last weekend.
“We don’t want to finish below .500, so we just keep grinding and try to end on a high note,” starter Lucas Giolito said.
Both the White Sox and the Twins were mathematically eliminated from the wild card race on Wednesday by Seattle’s win. The three-game series that the Twins and White Sox play next week in Chicago to wrap up the regular season was made irrelevant earlier this month as both teams stumbled down the stretch.
The Twins lead 9-7 in the season series with the White Sox, whose losing streak had matched their season high.
Giolito lasted five innings with two runs allowed in his 29th start of the season for the White Sox, reducing his ERA to 5.00 — the lowest since mid-August — in what has been disappointing year for the 2019 All-Star to mirror the underachievement of the whole team.
Reynaldo López (6-4) pitched the seventh for the victory.
“Everyone, their arms are a little tired, but they’re still battling in there. I’m proud of the pitchers. They’ve been going out there and doing their jobs,” acting manager Miguel Cairo said.
ANOTHER HOMETOWN KID
Twins starter Louie Varland finished five innings with two runs allowed. The 24-year-old, who played high school and college ball in the Twin Cities, made his fourth career start.
Varland lost a 2-0 lead when fellow rookie Matt Wallner made a risky dive for a sinking line drive to right field in the third inning and missed the catch as the ball bounded past him for an RBI triple by Romy Gonzalez.
The relay throw home beat Josh Harrison, but it was up the first base line and Harrison got his hand on the plate before the tag attempt by catcher Gary Sánchez. Payton followed with the tying single, his first hit and RBI in the AL.
Andrew Vaughn put the White Sox in front on a sacrifice fly against Griffin Jax, but Jimmy Lambert gave the lead up when Sánchez walked, pinch-runner Billy Hamilton stole two bases and pinch-hitter Ryan Jeffers drove him in with a bunt single.
The Twins announced an attendance of 23,397, and finished their 13th year at Target Field with an official season total of 1,801,128. That’s their lowest for a full schedule unaffected by the pandemic since 2001, when they drew 1,782,926 at the Metrodome. The per-game average this year of 22,236 ranks 20th in the major leagues.
“When you play good, people get behind you. That’s our goal, to go out there and play better when we get back here to Target Field next season,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
White Sox: 3B Yoán Moncada was on the bench for the second straight game with a bruised right foot from the foul ball that hit him there on Tuesday, but Cairo said he expects him to play again before the end of the season.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton was in the clubhouse before the game on crutches, recovering from the arthroscopic cleanup surgery he had on his right knee on Tuesday. Buxton played in 92 games this season, tying the second most of his eight-year career. He played in 140 games in 2017.
White Sox: RHP Davis Martin (2-5, 3.86 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound to begin a three-game series at San Diego on Friday.
Twins: RHP Joe Ryan (12-8, 3.70 ERA) pitches on Friday to start a three-game series at Detroit.
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