Twins score eight runs after the fifth inning to beat White Sox, extend winning streak to 10

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CHICAGO — If a team wins its 10th straight game for the first time in 16 years but nobody saw it, did it actually occur?

That’s a question Minnesota Twins fans unfortunately must consider after a showdown between a major cable provider and the team’s broadcast partner forced Wednesday afternoon’s game off the air in much of the Upper Midwest.

Despite losing Byron Buxton to a right knee injury, the Twins scored eight runs after the fifth inning and extended their best winning streak since the 2008 season with a 10-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Twins rallied behind a White Sox two-out, bases loaded error in the sixth inning and started punishing the opposing bullpen en route to victory No. 10, matching the fourth-longest winning streak in club history. José Miranda and Willi Castro each finished with three hits for the Twins, who improved to 17-13 before heading north for a seven-game homestand starting Friday.

“You get to really identify what momentum feels like and positive energy feels like and guys feeding off each other,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That’s what’s going on here right now. I don’t know how to look at it any other way. But when that starts to happen, you feel like you’re going to win every game.”

The quality of their opponents — or lack thereof — can undoubtedly increase a team’s confidence. After playing a difficult schedule the first 20 games of the season, the Twins certainly found a soft spot the past 10 days.

But throughout the team’s longest stretch of wins since June 17-27, 2008, the Twins rarely have felt out of a contest. And they’ve blown off many doors in the process.

Holding a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth inning, Chicago’s bullpen opened the door for the Twins.

First, reliever Steven Wilson loaded the bases with three walks. After his exit, Willi Castro hit a weak grounder toward Paul DeJong that should have ended the inning only for the shortstop to misplay the ball, allowing two runs to score.

An inning later, two more walks from White Sox reliever Dominic Leone resulted in the Twins pulling ahead 6-4 on consecutive RBI singles by Max Kepler and Miranda, who entered the game as Buxton’s replacement in the top of the third inning.

But the real fireworks arrived in the ninth inning with the Twins leading by a run after Brock Stewart surrendered a solo homer, snapping his Major League Baseball-leading scoreless streak at 25 innings.

Kyle Farmer opened the game-defining rally with a pinch-hit single and Carlos Correa, who previously walked twice, also singled. Facing reliever John Brebbia, Miranda ripped a two-run double into the left-field corner to increase the lead to 8-5. Ryan Jeffers doubled Miranda in and Castro singled in a run to put the White Sox in the rear-view mirror.

“Everyone is playing a little freer,” said Twins starting pitcher Bailey Ober, who pitched six innings to earn the win. “You can just tell there’s not a whole lot of pressure being put on ourselves. If one of guys doesn’t get the job done, we’re confident in the next guy to be able to pick us up. I feel like the biggest thing is leaning on each other and trusting our teammates.”

The Twins offense has been the key to it all. During a 7-13 start, the Twins scored 67 runs. Over their past 10 games, the Twins outscored their opponents 76-36.

Suddenly a club that was six games under .500 and searching for signs of life is feeling healthier as it gears up for a homestand against two opponents loaded with starting pitching in Boston and Seattle.

“We knew we had an opportunity coming into this stretch to turn the page a little bit and have a fresh start,” Jeffers said. “I don’t think anyone in here expected to go 10-0, but we played really good baseball. We hung in these games, fought hard and came out the other end with an undefeated stretch of games.”

Twins players had to ward off bad vibes early in the game, some that were not of their making.

Late Tuesday, Comcast signaled it has lost the rights to air the team’s games as the result of a contract dispute with Diamond Sports Group, the parent company for Bally Sports North and 11 other teams’ regional networks. Suddenly, a team in the midst of its best winning streak since Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer formed the nucleus of the offense was no longer capable of being watched by a significant portion of its fanbase, which angered fans in Twins Territory throughout the morning.

Then in the second inning, Buxton exited with right knee soreness following a failed stolen base attempt. Slow to walk off the field, multiple sources in the Twins clubhouse confirmed first-base umpire Rob Drake yelled at Buxton to move faster, a moment that was picked up by field microphones positioned near home plate.

Following the game, Baldelli said Buxton’s twice surgically repaired right knee would require an MRI, but hesitated to offer a further update.

Sapped of another energetic player, the Twins fell behind 3-0 early as Ober yielded two RBI doubles in the first inning, including one to Tommy Pham. Pham later blasted a solo homer in the third. Though the Twins got within a run in fifth inning on Alex Kirilloff’s solo homer, Robbie Grossman doubled off Ober in the fifth to increase the deficit to 4-2.

But after entering for Buxton, Miranda continued a torrid road trip with a single in the fourth inning before adding two more late hits.

He batted .400/.400/.680 on the trip with five RBIs in 25 plate appearances.

After a shoulder injury bothered him for all of last season, Miranda is looking similar to the 2022 version of himself, posting an .858 OPS through his first 56 plate appearances.

“It’s been a long road, obviously, but you know, I’ve been putting in the work,” Miranda said. “It’s been a lot of work, a lot of grinding through the offseason, so it feels great to see the results and to help the team win. Obviously, this stretch that we’re in right now, it feels great.”

(Photo of Twins celebrating their 10th straight victory:  Joe Robbins / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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