As Miguel Sano makes a late push for AL Rookie of the Year, the Minnesota Twins are carrying their resurgence into their first meaningful September in five years.
After the slugger's big effort keyed another home win, the Twins hope left-hander Tommy Milone can continue his career dominance of the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
Just two months into his big league career, Sano has been a major contributor for the Twins. He hit his 14th home run in 50 games Tuesday to even things up in the seventh inning before Minnesota (68-63) rallied to a series-opening 8-6 win.
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Although it might be too late to catch Houston's Carlos Correa in the Rookie of the Year race, Sano is living up to his early season ranking as one of the MLB's best prospects. He's batting .343 with nine homers and 23 RBIs in his last 19 games, while his 1.219 OPS is among the AL's best marks.
The Dominican has done it all while playing through a mild strain of his hamstring.
''Sano is the next Miguel Cabrera, in a couple years,'' teammate Eduardo Escobar said.
After seemingly playing their way out of the playoffs during a 9-21 stretch, the Twins have gotten back into a tight race with Texas for the second wild card by winning nine of 11.
Minnesota, which will likely snap a string of four straight 90-loss seasons, has batted .342 with 11 homers and 7.5 runs per game while taking seven of eight home games versus Chicago.
The Twins will try to keep producing for Milone (6-4, 3.86 ERA), who hopes to bounce back after allowing five runs over 5 1-3 innings in Thursday's 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay.
Milone hasn't been able to get out of the sixth in three starts since missing 2 1/2 weeks in early August with a sprained elbow, but he's 4-1 with a 3.16 ERA in his last six at home.
Milone has been outstanding against the White Sox, going 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in six career starts. He gave up 10 hits but only two runs over six innings in a 13-2 home win June 22.
Avisail Garcia is 5 for 9 off him, though Tyler Flowers (2 for 13), Melky Cabrera (1 for 8), Alexei Ramirez (2 for 16) and Adam Eaton (0 for 9) haven't fared as well. Eaton matched a career high with four hits in the opener, leaving him 9 for 14 in his last three games versus Minnesota.
Garcia, who hit his 12th home run Tuesday, is batting .381 in the season series. Adam LaRoche had two hits in the opener and is 9 for 17 with a homer and three doubles in his last five games at Minnesota.
Since going 1-2 with a 9.33 ERA over a four-start stretch, Carlos Rodon (6-5, 4.15) has turned things around with a 2-1 record and a 1.61 mark over his last four. The rookie left-hander will try to help the White Sox (61-69) avoid their seventh loss in 10 games.
"I've just learned how to pitch a little more, I'll put it that way," he told MLB's official website.
Rodon has gone 1-1 with an 0.98 ERA over his last four road outings. In one of three relief appearances in May, he allowed six hits over three scoreless innings in a 5-3 loss at Minnesota.