MINNEAPOLIS — A starting pitcher? Please. Who needs one, anyway?
The White Sox didn’t, at least not in the traditional sense, in a 3-1 victory Wednesday against the Twins.
Seven relievers followed emergency starter Ivan Nova — who pitched only one inning, as planned — to the mound in what manager Rick Renteria called a “hugely competitive team effort.” The Sox even took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
Left in the lurch after Dylan Covey was scratched from his scheduled start because of a sore shoulder, Renteria took a long look around the visitors’ clubhouse at Target Field and assessed his options.
Nope. Nobody. No one.
It was the second game in a row in which the Sox’ pitching plans were drastically altered. Lucas Giolito was lined up for Tuesday until a lat strain ended his season prematurely.
But there’s no crying in baseball, not even when your team is 20 games under .500. So Renteria and pitching coach Don Cooper got a little creative, sending Nova out on his scheduled side day of throwing — three days before his next normally scheduled start, which is Saturday in Detroit.
“I told Ricky, joking, that I don’t like it,” Nova said. “But you’ve got to do whatever you’ve got to do for the team.”
After Nova, it was all hands on deck, with Jace Fry (who was credited with the win) and Carson Fulmer carrying a combined four innings of the load. Jorge Polanco lined a sixth-inning single off Josh Osich for the Twins’ first hit and later scored, but four more relievers — Jimmy Cordero, Aaron Bummer, Evan Marshall and Alex Colome — kept the door shut from there.
Covey probably won’t pitch again this season, ending what was an enormous struggle for the 28-year-old right-hander. Listing the numbers is like tearing off a bandage: a 1-8 record, 7.98 ERA, 1.76 WHIP … you get the idea.
Play of the year?
Adam Engel might not be a five-tool guy. There are doubts if he has enough tools in his box to remain in the big leagues beyond this season. But he can run, he can throw and he always hustles.
The tools he does have were on full display in a spectacular moment for the young outfielder. With the Sox leading 2-1 in the eighth, Twins cleanup hitter Eddie Rosario pulled a towering fly to straightaway right field. It hit the wall an inch or so over the glove of a leaping Leury Garcia and bounded back toward the infield. Engel, sprinting from center field with the crack of the bat, corralled the ball, pivoted and fired a one-hopper to third baseman Yoan Moncada to nail Rosario in a bang-bang play.
Engel called it the best throw of his major league career.
Zack Collins went deep in the ninth inning, his second homer in as many nights and the third of his career, but that was probably the easy part. Catching eight different pitchers was intense.
“They made me look good tonight,” he said. “They pounded strikes, and that’s all we can really ask for.”