Quentin helps White Sox stay in first place
By Dave Campbell
MINNEAPOLIS — With August approaching and Chicago’s AL Central lead slipping, Carlos Quentin came to the plate and swatted the Minnesota Twins away for at least a few more games.
He’s been giving the White Sox these big hits all year.
Quentin went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs, Gavin Floyd frustrated the Twins with another strong start, and the White Sox stayed in first place with an 8-3 victory on Wednesday night — their first at the Metrodome this season.
"You come up against a quality team and get a win, you’re excited," Quentin said.
Teammate Nick Swisher was more demonstrative, pulling out his favorite metaphor in praise of the streaking Quentin.
"He’s hotter than doughnut grease," said Swisher, who had two of Chicago’s 15 hits.
Quentin is batting .324 with nine home runs, 21 RBIs and 19 runs over his last 17 games.
"He carried this ballclub for a long time," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He’s been doing the same stuff day in day out, and he continues to do it."
Floyd (11-6) held the Twins to one run and five hits over 7 2-3 innings, and Alexei Ramirez added a three-run homer. The White Sox, who stretched their division lead over Minnesota to 1 1/2 games, are 34-11 this year when homering two or more times and 55-23 when they connect once.
So Livan Hernandez (10-8) was in for trouble after allowing a solo shot to Quentin with two outs in the first. The All-Star left fielder, who played with Hernandez in Arizona the last two seasons, smacked a two-out, three-run double in the fourth to make it 5-0.
That was the big blow, on a slider the right-hander left over the middle of the plate. Afterward, Hernandez lamented over and over again the location of that pitch.
"That was the ballgame," he said.
Quentin, who has 83 RBIs and leads the league with 28 homers, also moved up a pair of runners with a long fly ball in the third inning before Jermaine Dye knocked one in with a sacrifice fly.
"He’s a good hitter. He’s got a great year. He’s hot right now," Hernandez said.
After losing their first four at the Metrodome this year, the White Sox bounced back in a big way.
"We needed to win this game badly for the enthusiasm of the ballclub," Guillen said.
The White Sox have been in first for 102 days, continuously since May 17. The Twins were trying to get there for the first time since May 13.
"Getting behind early against a good pitcher like that, you always know you’re in for a rough night," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was just one of those nights where they jumped us early. We couldn’t do much about it."
Perfect through three innings, Floyd yielded an RBI double by Justin Morneau in the fourth but retired 12 of the next 13 batters. This was his longest of 12 starts since a complete game on May 23. In four outings against the Twins this year, Floyd is 3-1 with a 1.86 ERA — including one gem in May when he was two outs from a no-hitter.
"I’ve come up my whole career with him in the minors, and it’s the same story," said Minnesota’s Jason Kubel, who had two hits. "Just a tough guy to face."
Hernandez dropped to 8-2 at the Metrodome this year after giving up nine hits, five runs and two walks. His 199 hits allowed are by far the most in the majors. He finished just four innings, throwing only 47 of his 80 pitches for strikes, and was replaced by Boof Bonser for the fifth.
Delmon Young’s RBI double in the ninth against Bobby Jenks wasn’t enough for Minnesota. Jenks gave up two runs, but after the way Floyd pitched he had plenty of padding.
"I believe in what I can do, and every team I’m facing I’m real confident that I can get people out," Floyd said. "I just try to attack and get outs. ... Hopefully we can even it up tomorrow."
Notes: Bonser made his first appearance in nine days, and just his sixth this month. Since being bumped to the bullpen in June, he has an 8.74 ERA with 36 hits allowed in 22 2-3 innings spanning 14 games. He was one out from completing three scoreless innings when he walked Paul Konerko. Two batters later, Ramirez took him deep. Gardenhire was upset that Bonser didn’t pitch more aggressively to Konerko. ... The game drew a crowd of 42,705, Minnesota’s largest this season since opening night. ... Twins RF Michael Cuddyer took batting practice for the first time since he was placed on the DL at the end of June with a strained tendon in his left index finger. He said he felt all right; he’s working on returning strength and mobility to his hand, but there’s no timetable for his return. ... Guillen kept Konerko sixth in the lineup despite a previous indication the 1B needed a mental break. After averaging .283 with 37 homers and 105 RBIs over the last four seasons, Konerko is in a bad slump. He went 1-for-4 and is 14-for-66 since coming off the DL earlier this month, dropping his average to .214. He has nine homers and 35 RBIs.