Well, that was about as good as it gets.
A great formula for winning is to get the lead early and keep adding on to it and have your starter go deep without ever threatening to let the other team get back in it. The Twins did that on Sunday . The fact that it was against Chris Sale was even better.
It's really bizarre what the Twins have done to Sale this year. After all, he's a great pitcher. No, really. He is!
Only twice all season has Sale been pulled from a start before finishing 5 innings and throwing at least 95 pitches. Both times came against the Twins: on Sunday and on April 30 at Target Field when he gave up a season-high 8 earned runs in just 3 IP.
All this came a day after the Twins played their worst game of this roadtrip. Tommy Milone got knocked out early and the Twins couldn't add any more runs after basically being handed two runs early. Plus the defense had several miscues.
That loss meant the Twins would be forced to beat Sale, one of the best pitchers in the American League, to avoid a demoralizing series loss after winning 2 of 3 in Kansas City against the AL's best team. The Twins also needed to win Sunday to go home with a winning recond on their nine-game roadtrip.
Miguel Sano had an RBI single in the first inning to give the Twins a quick lead, but the Twins didn't stop there. After Trevor Plouffe singled, Torii Hunter had an epic at-bat where he fouled off several close two-strike pitches, two a couple more close ones for balls and then a ripped a fastball into the left-center field stands for a 4-0 lead.
That was more than enough for Kyle Gibson, who had his A game on Sunday. He only allowed 5 hits and 1 walk while getting 7 strikeouts and 15 ground balls in his 7 2/3 innings. The best part was that the Twins only needed one out from Casey Fien and Kevin Jepsen and Trevor May weren't needed at all. If the want to go on a protracted run, they need to be able to get plenty of wins where they don't to use their best relief pitchers.
The bad news was Texas beat Oakland on Sunday, so the Twins remained 1 game back of the Rangers for the final playoff spot. However, who would have thought the Twins would be in such a position with just 20 games remaining. Even better, the Twins play 13 of their final 20 games at home, where they have played great all season. The win Sunday marked the end of a 25-game stretch that included 19 road games. The Twins went 15-10, although the lost a half game in the standings to Texas. However, they did pass Baltimore and the Angels in the standings.
The Twins will open their homestand against the Tigers, who split a doubleheader on Sunday with the Indians. Because of rainouts on Friday and Saturday, Justin Verlander had to pitch on Sunday and won't be available for the series against the Twins. The Tigers also traded away Twins nemesis David Price to the Blue Jays, so the Twins will face Kyle Lobstein, Alfredo Simon and TBD instead. Matt Boyd is a possibility for the third game.
While the Twins are facing the last-place Tigers, the Rangers will be playing host to the first-place Astros, who are riding high after an epic comeback against the Angels on Sunday by scoring 5 runs in the ninth to win 5-3 after there were two outs and no one on base. The Angels and the Astros are going to have a lot to say of who wins the West and wins the second wildcard. The Angels play 11 of their final 20 games against teams ahead of them in the standings. The Astros play 6 with Texas and 4 with the Angels. The Twins only play host to 4 games with the Angels after playing Detroit. After that, they'll be playing 6 with Cleveland and 3 at Detroit and finish with 3 home games against the Royals, who will more than likely be gearing up for the playoffs instead of worrying about regular-season games, although they might be battling with Toronto for the best record in the AL and homefield advantage in a possible ALCS matchup.