Twins takeaways from sweep of White Sox: Good vibes, better bats, slump-busters, what’s next

MINNEAPOLIS — Call it the Good Vibes series.

Following 20 games full of hardships, the Minnesota Twins were gifted four straight mostly carefree contests against the Chicago White Sox.

Concluding with Thursday afternoon’s 6-3 victory at Target Field, one in which they blasted five home runs, the Twins completed a four-day beatdown of an inferior opponent.

From multiple rallies to Chris Paddack’s dominance to taking advantage of opponents’ miscues, the previously struggling Twins were in every way superior to their American League Central rivals.

But with the White Sox off to one of the worst 25-game starts in baseball history, this series should probably be viewed more for the positive feelings it provided rather than as a measuring stick.

Given all they’ve endured in the first three and a half weeks, the Twins were more than happy to accept a four-day vacation from their problems.

“You have to like a lot of what we saw,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It was a really good series for us. We wanted to get a lot of things in order this week at home and play well. We were able to do much of it. … As a whole, bigger picture, I was pleased with what we got all around, pitching, defense and at the plate.”

Here’s what we took away from the Twins taking down the White Sox.

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Griffin Jax and Ryan Jeffers celebrate Thursday’s win and a four-game sweep of the White Sox. (Matt Krohn / USA Today)

• Who cares who they faced, the Twins offense hit with consistency, something it even struggled to do in spring training.

After he was placed in Baldelli’s blender, Edouard Julien, who hit two big home runs Thursday, went 5-for-13 with three round-trippers, four RBIs and five runs in the series.

Julien has hit seven homers this season.

“We had a tough start,” Julien said. “But we kept working hard and grinding, and we knew that was going to come at one point. It’s good to have a good homestand. … I think we needed that for our mental (health).”

Veteran Carlos Santana showed signs his bat is heating up, from improved plate discipline to a two-out RBI single Tuesday to hammering his first homer Thursday.

Twins spark plug Max Kepler returned from the injured list and a 1-for-20 start to provide four two-out RBI hits in the series and another key single in Thursday’s go-ahead rally.

Willi Castro also emerged from a season-long slump, breaking out in Wednesday’s win and proving the go-ahead RBI single on Thursday.

Trevor Larnach had eight hits in the series, including a nice bloop single Thursday off left-handed reliever Tanner Banks on the fifth of five straight off-speed pitches.

Over four games, the Twins increased their team batting average from .195 to .216.

“Going into this series we kind of had a feeling that this was a stretch where we had an opportunity to turn some stuff around, kind of get some mojo back, start swinging it better,” said catcher Ryan Jeffers, who belted a game-tying solo homer off Chicago starter Michael Soroka on Thursday in the sixth. “I think we did exactly that.”

• None of this means anything unless the Twins can keep it up. They open a six-game road trip Friday in Anaheim against the Angels, another beatable opponent. Then they travel to Chicago for three more games against the White Sox. Despite not having Royce Lewis since Opening Day, reliever Jhoan Duran at all, or Carlos Correa for the past 13 days, the Twins could find themselves at .500 with a 4-2 road trip. Hitting the refresh button after their hideous start with 132 games to go would be ideal.

“There’s still areas we can improve,” Jeffers said. “There’s still spots we’re going to get better. But we have another six games in front of us that if we go out and play good baseball, they’re very winnable.”

• Pablo López has spent two days shrugging off any concerns about the dip in velocity he experienced late in Tuesday’s outing. He didn’t hide from reporters and took part in a lengthy interview Wednesday night and played long toss Thursday. He starts again Sunday.

• On Thursday, Baldelli confirmed Correa would come off the IL without a rehab assignment as long as he continues to progress.

• Kyle Farmer is one of the few Twins who didn’t hit against the Sox. He’s hitting  .067/.208/.089 with two RBIs in 53 plate appearances this season.

The slump has left Farmer searching for ways to escape his malaise, including showering with his jersey on, wearing his sliders inside out, changing his socks every day, and he’s currently considering shaving.

“You could say anything to me right now, and I’d probably do it,” Farmer said. “If you tell me to wear my jockstrap upside down on my nose, I might do it. … You can’t force hits, you just can’t. They come and go. You look at (Wednesday), for example, I’m happy for everybody getting hits. I wish they were getting more hits than me, which they are. But you see the dump doubles, (Christian) Vázquez’s ball go through the web, and you see Cedric Mullins make the play of the century on me. … He’s going to win an ESPY for it!”

As rough as this is, Farmer’s been through worse. Barry Larkin and Farmer’s grandmother helped him out of the previous funk in 2022, an 0-for-34 snap that ended with a three-run homer.

Back then, Farmer’s grandma heard Larkin on a Reds broadcast discussing his slump and suggested he reach out to the Hall of Famer. Farmer called Larkin, who offered advice, and the next day he homered and pointed to the booth as he rounded the bases.

What does grandma suggest this time?

“She’s sending me bible verses right now,” he said.

With lefties Patrick Sandoval and Reid Detmers starting for Anaheim on Friday and Sunday, Farmer should get several opportunities to end his slump. He thinks the key to breaking out is more consistency.

“I just have to stick to my approach, simplify everything and not really think about it,” Farmer said. “A lot worse things can happen. It just happens to be now.”

Prediction: Farmer breaks out in Anaheim.

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Simeon Woods Richardson allowed two runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out six. (Matt Krohn / USA Today)

• For the first time in his career, Simeon Woods Richardson didn’t return to the minor leagues after making a start in the big leagues. With Louie Varland struggling, Thursday’s Twins starting pitcher is in the team’s rotation for the foreseeable future.

Woods Richardson wasn’t as sharp against the White Sox as he was in earning his first major-league victory at Detroit on April 13. Still, Woods Richardson was effective and kept the Twins in Thursday’s game until the offense finally woke up.

He did so by pairing a fastball that averaged 93.2 mph with effective enough secondary pitches. In all, Woods Richardson generated 11 swings-and-misses in 94 pitches and struck out six.

The Twins were right to swap Varland for Woods Richardson. With Paddack  regaining consistency as he returns from Tommy John surgery, the Twins needed more than what Varland was providing. Varland has the stuff to be a starter but needs to iron out his command and two-strike issues, something Minnesota couldn’t afford right now.

Woods Richardson has been solid or better in four of his five starts this season between the majors and Triple A. For now, it’s his shot.

“Long time coming,” Woods Richardson said. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears over the years. But yeah, it’s actually a sense of humbleness, one; thankfulness; gratitude. But now I get back to work. We’re still trying to get better, we’re still trying to learn, we’re still trying to ask questions from all these guys and try to be a better pitcher. … I try not to think about (the opportunity). I try not to think about it as much. Once again, I try to give the team its best chance to win whenever my name is called.”

(Top photo of Edouard Julien: David Berding / Getty Images)

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