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Middle of the order comes through as Twins beat White Sox

Minnesota finished with 12 hits, draw even with Chicago for second place in division

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins
Josh Winder delivers a pitch during Minnesota's game against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field on Sept. 28, 2022.
Jordan Johnson / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Luis Arraez tries to avoid all the chatter surrounding the American League batting title to the best of his ability.

That’s not so easy to do.

Not when fans are direct messaging him about it on social media, reporters are peppering him with questions about it and even the iPad that he uses to rewatch his at-bats reads his batting average back to him. Plus, the guy he’s chasing, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, is dominating the airwaves right now in his quest to set the American League home run record.

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But Arraez, who collected two hits in the Twins’ 8-4 win over the White Sox on Wednesday night at Target Field still tries his best to avoid all of it.

“I just try to do my best,” he said. “I just want to put a ball in play and like today, I got two base hits. I just want to feel good. If I feel good, I think I’ll get a lot of hits.”

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While the playoffs are now out of the question for the Twins (76-79), Arraez’s hunt for a batting title has become the most intriguing storyline over the remainder of the season.

With seven games remaining, Arraez is now right behind Judge, both at .313, though the slugger still holds a slim edge. Judge currently sits at .313406 while Arraez is hitting .313321.

“I look at it,” manager Rocco Baldelli admitted. “I hope he looks at it a lot less than I look at it. But you know what? … It’s exciting. It’s fun.”

Arraez’s two hits on Wednesday were part of a game in which the middle of the Twins’ order — Jose Miranda, Gio Urshela, Jake Cave and Matt Wallner — went a combined 10 for 14 with two walks, six runs scored and five runs driven in.

The Twins trailed the White Sox (76-79) ever so briefly in the second inning when starter Josh Winder gave up a pair of runs following three singles and a sacrifice fly, but Miranda responded by leading off the bottom of the frame with a single, starting a three-run rally that wound up putting the Twins up for good.

That group provided a bulk of the offense on a day where Arraez, who finished 2 for 5, inched closer to Judge, who finished Wednesday 1 for 4. That one hit was his AL record-tying 61st home run.

“I saw Judge got .313 and we’re tied right now, but I don’t pay attention too much,” Arraez said. “I just want to go out there and get my hits because we’ve got, I think, seven more games. I just try to get seven hits or maybe more. but I just go there and enjoy. I just need to enjoy the game and then finish strong.”

While Baldelli said it’s hard to gauge just how much Arraez thinks about the possibility of winning a batting title, he said he thinks there may have been a time — perhaps even earlier this month — where it was on the infielder’s mind even more than it is now.

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Now, Baldelli said, he thinks Arraez has reached a level of calm and has gotten to a point where he’s just going out there trying his best to hit some line drives.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins right fielder Matt Wallner hits a two-run RBI single during the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field on Sept. 28, 2022.
Jordan Johnson / USA Today Sports

“This is what he does: he goes out there, he hits some balls good. He has a lot of games where he’s hitting three and four balls on the nose and this game’s hard,” Baldelli said. “You’re not going to get a hit every time you hit a ball squarely, but he’s having really good at-bats right now. I think if he continues to focus on that and just swings the bat the way he is, he’s going to have a pretty good shot at this thing.”

The offensive outburst — the Twins finished with 12 hits — was enough on a day where starter Josh Winder didn’t make it through five innings.

Winder gave up a pair of runs in the second inning, allowing three straight hits to produce the first Chicago run and a sacrifice fly for the second. Winder would go on to give up another run in the fifth inning, knocked out of the game after 4 2/3 innings.

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