By Dave Campbell
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have been in first place in the AL Central for all but 13 days this season, a perch the Chicago White Sox have been aiming for during this extended rebuilding project.
If they can make that big jump in 2020, Lucas Giolito will surely be a major factor.
Giolito pitched a three-hit shutout of the second-highest scoring team in the major leagues, racking up 12 strikeouts for the White Sox on Wednesday in a 4-0 victory for their first series win over the Twins in two years.
“He’s a tough customer, and he was on his game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He pounded the strike zone, but he also has elite stuff, too.”
Giolito (14-6) allowed only runner past first base, a double by Jonathan Schoop in the eighth. The 25-year-old fanned Jake Cave to finish that inning and reach double-digit strikeouts for the third straight time, the first White Sox starter to do so since Chris Sale did so in eight consecutive turns in 2015. The last right-hander with a streak that long for the team was Edwin Jackson, with three in a row in 2010.
Giolito also matched Cleveland’s Shane Bieber for the major league lead with his third complete game this season, though one was a five-inning, rain-shortened contest against Toronto before he blanked Houston with a four-hit shutout on May 23. Giolito got there this time with a career-high 115 pitches, without a walk.
“If you asked me last year, say you’d throw two complete-game shutouts next season, I don’t know if I would have believed it,” Giolito said, “but it’s the work I put in in the offseason, coming in pitching with confidence every single time.”
The Twins beat the White Sox 10-3 on July 25, and Giolito gave up seven hits, seven runs and four homers in five innings in that game. Since then, he’s 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 34 innings. He said a recent change to his between-starts weight room routine has helped him increase his late-game velocity.
One of the myriad prospects collected by the White Sox during their systematic dump of high-priced veterans, Giolito was one of three players acquired from Washington for outfielder Adam Eaton prior to the 2017 season.
“It was able to allow us replenish our system,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Hopefully, we’re moving forward in a positive direction just in general.”
The Twins were blanked for the third time this year, all at home and also on April 30 by Houston and June 17 by Boston. They took a three-game lead on the Indians in the AL Central into the day. This 13-game stretch entirely against the third-place White Sox and fifth-place Detroit Tigers that began this week looked like a favorable spot on the schedule, but solid starting pitching can make quite the difference.
José Abreu went 3 for 5 with two RBIs for the White Sox from his usual third spot in the lineup, with Leury Garcia and Tim Anderson each producing two hits from their places in front of him. The first three batters scored all four runs against Twins starter Jake Odorizzi (13-6), who was outdone by his fellow American League All-Star.
Though Odorizzi was bested by a bunch of rollers and bloops, with six of eight hits allowed in five innings going for singles, a sign he was not in form was a second wild pitch of the game that let Abreu score with two outs in the fifth. Odorizzi has three wild pitches in two starts after totaling just two over the last two years.
“I might have had the most weak contact I had all season, and the results weren’t there to go with it,” Odorizzi said. “But that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
Twins: LF Eddie Rosario was removed after the fifth inning as a precaution due to tightness in his right hamstring. “It wasn’t like an acute injury or anything that seems to be on the higher end of the serious scale, but even something moderately serious is still something that we’re going to spend some time on,” Baldelli said.
Twins: After an off day, the Twins begin a three-game series against Detroit on Friday night with RHP José Berriós (10-6, 3.37 ERA) on the mound. Berriós has an 8.44 ERA over his last three turns, with 22 hits, eight walks and five homers allowed in 16 innings. The Tigers had yet to declare their starter.
By Dave Campbell
AP Sports Writer
The Minnesota Wild have hired Bill Guerin, who won two Stanley Cups as a player and two more titles in the front office with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as their new general manager.
Guerin was announced Wednesday as the fourth GM in the team’s 19-year history, three weeks after predecessor Paul Fenton was fired by owner Craig Leipold. Guerin spent the last five seasons as assistant general manager of the Penguins, who won consecutive Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. He also worked three years in player development prior to that for the club he skated for in the final two of his 18 seasons in the league as player. He was on Pittsburgh’s title-winning team in 2009.
The 48-year-old Guerin, who signed a multi-year contract that the Wild did not disclose terms for, will supervise the hockey operations department including all matters relating to player personnel, coaching staff, scouting department and minor league operations.
As he attempted on July 30 to explain his decision to dismiss Fenton after just 15 months on the job, Leipold praised the former Nashville Predators assistant general manager as a “tremendous” scout who lacked the necessary acumen in other areas.
“It was the other portion of being a general manager, the organizational part, the strategic part, the management of people, the hiring and motivating of the departments,” Leipold said. “When I talk about not being a good fit, that’s what I’m referring to.”
Leipold, clearly stung by his whiff on a longtime lieutenant, initially said the Wild would be wise to hire a replacement for Fenton with prior experience as an NHL general manager, and former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall was one of the reported candidates. In the end, though, Guerin rose to the top after the search conducted by Leipold, president Matt Majka and executive adviser Mike Modano. He’ll be the third GM in three years for the Wild, who played their first eight seasons under the direction of Doug Risebrough and then Chuck Fletcher for nine years.
Guerin had 429 goals and 427 assists in 1,263 career games with eight different teams . He also won a Stanley Cup in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils, who drafted him fifth overall in 1989. Guerin, who is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, played in four All-Star games and in three Olympics.
Guerin, who will be introduced at a news conference at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday, immediately got to work. About two hours after the Wild confirmed his hiring, they announced that center Joel Eriksson Ek signed a two-year, $2.975 million contract. He was a restricted free agent. Eriksson Ek, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2015, had seven goals and seven assists in 58 games last season.
By Brian Hall
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Being a first-round draft pick, Laquon Treadwell has received several opportunities to secure a role in the Minnesota Vikings’ offense.
His next chance might come with a new team.
Minnesota is still left searching for a reliable option for the third receiver spot behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
“They’re hard to separate right now,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of the backup receivers. “When we talk about it in the personnel meetings, it’s things like that. One guy has a good day, then he has a bad day. The consistency of what they’re trying to do is really hard to get a handle on. That’s why I say these special teams, they need to get their rear ends going on that.”
Treadwell’s spot in the competition has seemed more afterthought than expectation this year. He is behind second-year, undrafted Chad Beebe on the depth chart and his spot on the roster became even more unsettled after Zimmer’s comments following Sunday’s second preseason game. Treadwell caught all four of his targets for 47 yards.
“We’re trying to get Treadwell the ball a little bit more in the second half,” Zimmer said after the game. “Try to showcase him a little bit, I guess. He made some nice plays.”
The nice plays have been few and far between in three seasons for Treadwell. He has 56 NFL catches for 517 yards and one touchdown, while being plagued by drops.
It was no surprise this spring when Minnesota declined the fifth-year option on Treadwell’s contract.
“I would love to be here,” Treadwell said this week. “I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else.”
Hoping to stay, Treadwell said he’s changed his outlook and is only focused on “winning.”
“That’s my mindset and it keeps things simple,” Treadwell said. “I don’t have to read the media. I don’t have to pay attention to depth charts, none of that. They call my name to go in, if I win, everything else will take care of itself.”
Beebe, who’s also been holding for field goals at times, appears to have a job. He had four catches for the Vikings last season.
Former Canadian Football League standout Brandon Zylstra, who had one catch in the regular season last year, has recovered from an offseason injury and had five catches for 37 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s game.
“I think the explosiveness is starting to come back a little bit for him now,” Zimmer said. “I thought he did well (Sunday).”
Former Denver Broncos receiver Jordan Taylor has been in the mix this summer. Minnesota drafted two receivers in the seventh round of this year’s draft, Olabisi Johnson and Dillon Mitchell, and also brought back speedy Jeff Badet after a year on the practice squad.
Special teams work will play a deciding role, and Zimmer also mentioned the eventual backups could come from another NFL roster.
Meanwhile, Treadwell doesn’t mind being showcased for a chance to make any NFL roster.
“I hope I’ll just get showcased more.” Treadwell said. “That’s what you want in this league, just to be able to go out and show what you can do. The more they show me, the more I’ll do. The opportunities I get, try to make the most of my opportunities and let the rest take care of itself.”
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Minnesota Twins started a six-game road trip outside the lead in the AL Central for the first in almost four months.
They’re back on top of Cleveland, with a little room to spare after a fruitful stop in Texas.
Jorge Polanco cleared the bases with a tiebreaking triple in the eighth inning, lifting the Twins to their first-ever four-game sweep of the Rangers with a 6-3 victory Sunday.
By finishing its first four-game sweep since the end of last season, Minnesota maintained a 2½-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central. The Twins went 5-1 on a trip that started with them a half-game behind after Cleveland beat Boston while they had a day off.
Minnesota immediately went back in front with a win at Milwaukee while the Indians lost to the Red Sox.
“It was a tremendous trip,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It was fun to watch our guys. There were a lot of big moments on this trip, and ultimately we found ways to win these games.”
Polanco’s two-out liner to the gap in right-center field off Emmanuel Clase (0-2) followed the hard-throwing rookie getting a strikeout and groundout after putting runners at second and third with no outs. Miguel Sanó walked to load the bases before Polanco’s team-leading sixth triple on a 99-mph cutter.
“I’ve seen 100 miles per hour, but his pitches cut and move,” Polanco said through a translator.
Shin-Soo Choo connected for his 20th homer off onetime Texas closer Sam Dyson to get the Rangers even in the seventh, preventing left-hander Martín Pérez from beating his former team for the second time in two starts after spending his first seven seasons with the Rangers.
Dyson (5-1) escaped the seventh despite allowing two singles after Choo’s blast, Sergio Romo pitched around an error in the eighth and Taylor Rogers struck out Rougned Odor looking as the potential tying run in the ninth for his 19th save in 25 chances.
The Rangers have lost 10 of 12 and are on their third losing streak of at least four games since the All-Star break, including an eight-game skid.
“We’re not just going to wipe it away and say, ‘OK, this is all going to be good tomorrow,'” manager Chris Woodward said. “It’s not. Like, we’ve got to learn from all this. Those are conversations that we’re having on a daily basis. It’s tough.”
Marwin González gave the Twins a 2-0 lead in the first on a line-drive double that was misplayed by left fielder Willie Calhoun. It was González’s 11th hit in 15 at-bats in the series before a flyout, two groundouts and a walk his final four trips.
Texas didn’t have a hit that left the infield off Pérez until Delino DeShields’ two-out single to right in the fourth. Jeff Mathis followed with a soft two-run single into right to get Texas within 3-2. Pérez allowed two runs on five hits and four walks in five innings.
The temperature was 95 degrees at first pitch and reached 100 by the middle innings. Minnesota leadoff hitter and center fielder Max Kepler left the game in the seventh inning because of heat illness. The game lasted 3 hours, 49 minutes.
The Rangers are in the last of 26 seasons at Globe Life Park before moving across the street to Globe Life Field, which will have a retractable roof and air conditioning.
Lance Lynn tied a season high with five walks while allowing four hits and three runs in five innings for the Rangers. The right-hander followed two straight losses with a no-decision after matching the AL lead at that time with his 14th win on Aug. 2.
“Behind in a lot of counts and walked too many guys,” Lynn said. “From the get-go, it wasn’t good enough. I’ve just got to be better from the get-go.”
Twins: Baldelli said it was possible slugger Nelson Cruz (left wrist strain) would be reinstated from the injured list Monday when he’s eligible to return. Baldelli said the club has received “nothing but positive news” since Cruz got hurt.
Rangers: All-Star slugger Joey Gallo is lightly swinging a bat for the first time since surgery July 25 to remove the broken hamate bone in his right wrist. Woodward said the club hopes Gallo can play the final 2-3 weeks of the regular season.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (11-5, 4.28 ERA) is set for the opener of a three-game series at home against the White Sox. Gibson is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against Chicago this season, with 18 strikeouts and two walks in 13 innings.
Rangers: Rookie LHP Kolby Allard (1-0, 4.50) is set to pitch for Texas as the Angels return to Globe Life Park for the first time since pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room before the start of a series. The teams played three games after the opener was postponed.
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SEATTLE (AP) — Jordin Canada scored 14 points to and the Seattle Storm never trailed in an 82-74 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday.
Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard had 13 points apiece, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 11 and Mercedes Russell and Alysha Clark scored 10 apiece for Seattle (15-13).
Clark made a pull-up jumper, stole a pass and then fed Canada for a basket that made it 11-0 midway through the first quarter. Minnesota went 0 for 5 from the field and committed six turnovers during that span.
Odyssey Sims scored 18 of her season-high 30 points in the third quarter as the Lynx (13-14) trimmed their deficit to 67-63. Loyd converted a 3-point play to spark a 9-2 run to open the fourth and Minnesota never again threatened.
Napheesa Collier scored 16 points, and Sylvia Fowles added 11 for the Lynx. They have lost three of their last four games.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Abu Danladi smashed home a close-range putback in second-half stoppage time and Minnesota United salvaged a 1-1 draw with Orlando City on Saturday night.
Ike Opara header-flicked Romain Métanire’s long throw-in and it bounced off a pair of Orlando defenders before falling to Danladi, who buried a right-footed volley for his first goal since April 6.
Nani opened the scoring with a penalty kick for Orlando City (9-11-7) in the 70th minute. Nani also drew the penalty, getting taken down by Opara on a breakaway in the area. Goalkeeper Vito Mannone guessed the right way, but Nani’s shot got inside the left post.
Minnesota is 12-8-6.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Max Kepler and Jonathan Schoop hit two-run home runs to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
The Twins increased their AL Central lead to 1½ games over the Cleveland Indians, who lost Friday night.
Schoop homered in the seventh inning following a one-out single by Marwin Gonzalez. Kepler hit his team-leading 33rd homer in the fourth inning on the first pitch after Miguel Sanó reached when Rougned Odor dropped a popup in shallow right field.
The Twins lead the major leagues with 238 homers and are on pace to break the big-league record of 267 set last season by the New York Yankees. Minnesota has homered in 16 of its past 18 games since July 28 with a total of 37.
Mike Minor (11-7) allowed all four runs in losing for the first time in four starts. Kepler’s homer ended Minor’s scoreless innings streak at 19 1/3.
Sam Dyson (5-1) earned his first win since being acquired from the San Francisco Giants on July 31 with a scoreless seventh inning. Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless ninth, finishing with Danny Santana’s ground out with runners on first and second, for his third save in four tries since being acquired from the Miami Marlins on July 27 and 20th in 22 opportunities overall this season.
The Rangers were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position, leaving a runner at third base in the seventh and eighth innings and at second in the ninth.
Nomar Mazara put the Rangers ahead in the sixth on a two-out, two-run double to the gap in right center.
Jake Odorizzi allowed all three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He has filed to last six innings in nine of his last 10 starts.
The Rangers’ first run scored when Odorizzo uncorked his first wild pitch of the season, skimming off the top of Mitch Garver’s glove to score Elvis Andrus.
MOVIN’ ON UP
Each team recalled a right-hander from its Triple-A affiliate before the game. Lewis Thorpe is with the Twins for the third time this season, previously pitching 11 1/3 innings in four games and making one start. The Rangers’ Ian Gibaut was acquired from Tampa Bay on July 28 and then pitched in four games for Nashville. Gibaut has made one previous big league appearance, with the Rays on July 12.
Twins DH Nelson Cruz (left wrist strain) hit on the field before the game. Manager Rocco Baldelli said Cruz might return soon after becoming eligible to return on Monday without a minor league rehab stint.
Twins right-hander José Berrios (10-6, 3.29) won his last two road starts, going seven innings each time and allowing a total of two earned runs. Rangers right-hander Ariel Jurado (6-8, 5.31) has won one of his last seven starts and allowed a career-high 11 hits last time out, against Toronto. The game will be preceded by 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton being inducted into the Rangers’ hall of fame.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ariel Atkins scored 18 points, Emma Meesseman added 17 points and the Washington Mystics clinched a playoff berth with an 86-79 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Friday night.
The Mystics (19-7), who have the best record in the WNBA by a game over Connecticut, surged into the lead for good during a 13-4 run capped at 74-70 on LaToya Sanders’ 19-foot jumper with 3:32 left in the game.
Meesseman’s 3-pointer with 51.8 seconds left made it 80-73 and Washington made all six of its free throws from there.
Elena Delle Donne had 14 points and eight rebounds, Aerial Powers had 14 points and Natasha Cloud scored 13 for the Mystics.
Sylvia Fowles had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead the Lynx (13-13). Damiris Dantas and Danielle Robinson added 14 points each. Napheesa Collier scored 13 and Odyssey Sims 10.
SUN 79, STORM 78
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Shekinna Stricklen scored 24 points and made a pair of free throws with 4.3 seconds left to help the Connecticut Sun rally from a late seven-point deficit and beat the Seattle Storm 79-78 on Friday night.
Connecticut (18-8) was down 76-69 with 1:47 left before closing the game on a 10-2 run capped by Stricklen’s two free throws. Alyssa Thomas added 17 points, 11 rebounds and five steals, including one to seal the game after Stricklen’s free throws.
Seattle (14-13) had its largest lead at 61-48 late in the third quarter, but Stricklen scored nine points during Connecticut’s 10-2 run to close the period.
Natasha Howard scored 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Storm. Jewell Loyd added 15 points, Crystal Langhorne scored 14 and Alysha Clark 11.
WINGS 83, LIBERTY 77
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Allisha Gray scored 22 points and the Dallas Wings took the lead in the final minute to win their third straight, beating New York 83-77 on Friday night.
Isabelle Harrison’s basket with 40.4 seconds left gave Dallas a 76-75 lead. Arike Ogunbowale, who added 21 points for the Wings (9-17), followed with three consecutive free throws and Gray added a pair to make it 81-75 with 17.4 seconds to go.
Bria Hartley cut the deficit to four with a pair of free throws for the Liberty (8-17), but that was as close as they would get.
Harrison had 15 points and Glory Johnson scored 11 for the Wings.
Tina Charles led New York with 25 points. Kia Nurse added 17 points and Hartley scored 12.
New York, which has lost seven straight, trailed by seven in the middle of the fourth quarter but rallied to take the lead at 73-71 with 1:43 to go.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Odyssey Sims had 17 points, Stephanie Talbot added 16 points and the Minnesota Lynx beat the New York Liberty 89-73 on Tuesday night.
Minnesota led 40-29 before New York closed the half on an 11-2 run with seven straight points from Rebecca Allen. She scored a franchise-best 20 points in the quarter — just two points shy of the WNBA record.
Minnesota jumped ahead in the third quarter, scoring 20 of the first 31 points, and cruised.
Napheesa Collier and Danielle Robinson each had 14 points for Minnesota (13-12). Sylvia Fowles had seven points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes.
Allen finished with a career-high 28 points for New York (8-16), which has lost six straight and nine of 10. Allen was 11 of 15 from the field, including 6 of 7 from 3-point range. The fifth-year player set her previous high of 21 points last Wednesday.
Tanisha Wright had six assists for New York to move into a tie with Temeka Johnson for 10th all-time in the WNBA. Tina Charles was held to seven points on 2-of-9 shooting, and Asia Durr and Amanda Zahui B. did not play because of injury.
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Looking for solutions for their longtime kicking issues, the Minnesota Vikings traded for Kaare Vedvik from the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Vedvik has kicked and punted for Baltimore, which was set at the position with standouts Justin Tucker and Sam Koch. The Ravens announced the trade via Twitter with an undisclosed draft pick as the compensation in the deal for Baltimore.
The Ravens had hoped to trade Vedvik because of their consistency at each of the specialist positions, and the former Marshall University kicker and punter demonstrated his ability in Baltimore’s first preseason game on Thursday.
He was 4 for 4 on field goals, hitting one from 55 yards. He converted two extra-point attempts and punted twice for a 55.5-yard average.
The trade was announced just minutes before Vikings coach Mike Zimmer spoke to reporters on Sunday and he wouldn’t acknowledge the trade.
“If we indeed made a trade, it’s to try to get better guys, wherever we do that,” Zimmer said.
Minnesota has veteran kicker Dan Bailey, who missed seven field-goal attempts last season with a career-worst 75 percent conversation rate, and punter Matt Wile in training camp. The team also has a competition at long snapper between holdover Kevin McDermott and seventh-round draft pick Austin Cutting, creating inconsistency in the field-goal unit.
“Honestly, I really like Dan Bailey,” Zimmer said. “I think he’s a very professional, mature kid. We’ve been having some issues with the three; the snap, hold, kick kind of thing. And having two long snappers, I think that’s added to it a little bit because the timing is different. The holding we’re working on quite a bit. I like Dan.”
Zimmer has tried different holders in the field-goal operation after Wile handled the job last year. Wile was tied for ninth in the league last season with a 41.5-yard net punting average.
Bailey connected on all four of his extra-point attempts in the first preseason game and didn’t have a field-goal try. Wile punted twice for a 42.5-yard average.
“The first punt was inside the 20, but not by much,” Zimmer said. “I think he should have got it closer to the end zone on that one. I think he’s been better this camp. Directionally, he still needs to work on going to his left. But I think he’s done better this camp.”
A native of Norway, Vedvik spent the entire 2018 season on the non-football injury list for Baltimore after he was assaulted in East Baltimore a day before the final cuts last year, suffering serious head and facial injuries in the attack that left him hospitalized.
“A lot more emotional than I thought it was going to be,” Vedvik told the team’s website about Thursday’s game. “A lot of anticipation. It’s been a long year building up to come back to this moment again. I love football. I love sports. Getting back on the field, it’s a different feeling.”
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