Gavin Sheets has provided an instant spark for the Chicago White Sox, who aim for a series sweep of the visiting Minnesota Twins on Thursday.
The 25-year-old rookie outfielder had two hits and two RBIs in his major league debut on Tuesday, then delivered a two-run homer Wednesday in Chicago’s 13-3 win.
After the first game of the scheduled four-game series was postponed due to rain, Chicago has scored a total of 20 runs in back-to-back wins over Minnesota.
The son of former major-leaguer Larry Sheets, Gavin Sheets was hitting .292 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs in 41 games for Triple-A Charlotte before his promotion.
“It’s been incredible,” Sheets said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Obviously the biggest thing is we’re 2-0, so that’s obviously fun. It makes the clubhouse fun. To get that home run tonight, I can’t even describe it. …
“The coolest thing was just seeing the way the guys got excited for me. That was the best part of it all. It’s been a fun two days.”
Chicago, which ranks last in the American League in home runs, went deep six times in the victory, with Yasmani Grandal leading the way.
Grandal belted two homers and drove in five runs for the White Sox, who have won seven of their first eight meetings with the Twins this season.
Minnesota has lost four of its past six games despite the play of third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has homered in back-to-back games.
Donaldson criticized White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito over the illegal-substances controversy after Tuesday’s game and drew boos from the crowd in Chicago on Wednesday following his first-inning homer.
With his team battling to get back into playoff contention, Donaldson said his comments were also designed to inspire the Twins.
“I mean, that’s a huge part,” he said. “I’m trying to get our boys fired up and ready to go. We’re at a point in our season which is critical. This is do or die for us, going through this stretch. We’re playing with a sense of urgency right now to go out there and win ballgames. Me talking to my teammates and me trying to encourage them and getting them fired up, that’s part of my job. That’s why I’m here.”
Minnesota sends ace Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.41 ERA) to the mound for Thursday’s series finale.
Berrios recorded his third consecutive quality outing on June 24, allowing one run on four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians.
The 27-year-old right-hander has allowed four earned runs or fewer in 15 consecutive starts to open the season.
Jose Abreu is 11-for-42 with a home run against Berrios, who is 12-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 17 career starts against the White Sox, including 4-2 with a 4.09 mark in nine outings at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Chicago turns to Carlos Rodon (6-3, 2.06 ERA), who is looking to bounce back after giving up three runs over five innings Friday during a 9-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
The 28-year-old left-hander has recorded eight-plus strikeouts in each of his past seven starts, one short of the longest such streak in White Sox history. Chris Sale fanned at least eight batters in eight straight starts in 2015.
Jorge Polanco is 6-for-13 with a home run against Rodon, who is 5-3 with a 4.73 ERA in 10 career games (nine starts) vs. Minnesota.
–Field Level Media