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White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson keeps pushing toward higher level of excellence

In high-stakes situations, in those moments when the White Sox really need him, Tim Anderson isn’t going to fail on account of anxiousness or letting the moment overwhelm him.

“I’m just at a point where I understand my work and I understand what I’m doing and knowing what guys are trying to do to me,” White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said.
“I’m just at a point where I understand my work and I understand what I’m doing and knowing what guys are trying to do to me,” White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said.
Aaron Doster/AP

MINNEAPOLIS — In high-stakes situations, in those moments when the White Sox really need him, shortstop Tim Anderson isn’t going to fail on account of anxiousness or letting the moment overwhelm him.

His pulse stays the same.

“There’s no pressure,” Anderson said Monday. “Those are moments I want to be in; those are moments I like. It’s just having no pressure. You’re always calm in certain situations, and at the end of the day, it’s baseball. It’s a game.”

Anderson is a man playing a kid’s game like a kid, having fun, chirping encouragement at his teammates, celebrating when it’s warranted.

The game will rarely, if ever, be mastered, but Anderson at the very least seems to be figuring it out more with each passing season. He studies video of opposing pitchers. He walks up to bat with a plan. He adjusts.

In one situation, he’s taking a fastball to right field for a single. In another, he’s driving a breaking pitch over the left-field wall. He wasted no time extending his hitting streak to 12 games, starting a 16-4 victory against the Twins by leading off the game with a single in a three-run Sox first.

“I’m just at a point where I understand my work and I understand what I’m doing and knowing what guys are trying to do to me,” Anderson said.

Anderson was on the field early, taking ground balls. He knows he finished seventh in American League MVP voting last season after hitting .322/.357/.529 with an .886 OPS and committing six errors in 49 games. He knows if he becomes a Gold Glove-caliber defender, an MVP award becomes much more attainable. He has made one error this season.

“I’ve been working my butt off since I got in this organization to prove I could be a shortstop,” Anderson said.

“It doesn’t stop here. I’ve got to continue to work and continue to get better.”

On this night of the “laugher,” or rout, though, the theme was offense. Featuring a lineup without Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert and playing an outfield of Leury Garcia, Billy Hamilton and Danny Mendick, the Sox pounded out 18 hits, 16 of them against Twins left-hander J.A. Happ, Derek Law and Shaun Anderson in the first six innings.

“Our guys, one through nine, everybody had good at-bats, and they were relentless,” manager Tony La Russa said.

Every Sox starter had a hit by the fifth inning with the exception of catcher Yasmani Grandal, who had a sacrifice fly in the first inning, then became the first player in Sox history to walk four times in three games in a season. Grandal has walked 33 times.

Nick Madrigal hit his first career homer and was a triple shy of a cycle by the fourth inning, and Mendick (five RBI) hit his first career grand slam. Yermin Mercedes homered in the ninth against position player Willians Astudillo.

“We put on a little bit of a clinic hitting-wise,” Mendick said.

The Sox set season highs in runs, hits, extra-base hits (nine) and doubles (five) and had seven players with multihit games.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (3-1) pitched seven innings of three-run ball, allowing seven hits with six strikeouts and no walks.

“When you play like this, it’s about the most fun you can have,” Keuchel said.

The Sox improved to a major-league-best 25-15, while sinking the Twins (13-26) even lower in the AL Central. The Sox are 4-0 against the Twins and have won nine of their last 11 and 17 of 23.

“Any chance you get to beat a division rival, you want to take advantage,” Mendick said. “Down the road, you never know what’s going to happen. You gotta have those wins.”