Twins overcome Sale to end year on high note

Twins overcome Sale to end year on high note

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale's final pitch of an All-Star 2016 season was a slider that caught Miguel Sano looking in the fifth inning of a 6-3 Minnesota victory over the White Sox Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. Whether that pitch will be Sale's last as part of the White Sox remains to be seen, as the left-hander serves as Chicago's top trade chip despite having contractual control over him for three more seasons.

"Absolutely, it could. This is sports. Anything can happen," Sale said. "I don't anticipate that happening or necessarily really want that to happen but it could."

A little more light figures to be shed on that matter Monday morning, when general manager Rick Hahn meets the media, and certainly as the offseason progresses. The first change took place postgame when manager Robin Ventura announced his tenure as White Sox manager had come to a close after five seasons.

White Sox react to news of Ventura's departure

Ventura on stepping down

But as of Sunday, Sale could revel in another great yearlong performance, despite the Twins getting to him for five runs on six hits, including a home run from Sano and an inside-the-park homer from Byron Buxton on the game's first pitch. Sale finished at 17-10 and with a 3.34 ERAwith a career-high 226 2/3 innings pitched, while his 233 strikeouts represent the sixth-highest single-season total in franchise history. Sale set the franchise mark with 274 in 2015.

Sale's fifth strikeout

Jose Berrios picked up his third victory, holding the White Sox to four hits over five innings. The one run scored off of Berrios came in courtesy of Jose Abreu's single in the third. Minnesota closed out the season with a two-game winning streak, raising its record to 59-103 but still ending up with the worst mark in the Majors to get the No. 1 pick in next year's Draft, while the White Sox finished below .500 for a fourth straight season at 78-84.

"It was great," Berrios said. "That's what I came here to do, and I knew I can do it. Being able to finish like that this year was great for my confidence. It's good for me to go home and enjoy the offseason on that note."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
That was fast: Buxton made an impact in a hurry with his leadoff inside-the-park homer over the head of center fielder Leury Garcia on the first pitch of the game from Sale. Buxton raced around the bases in 14.05 seconds, which is the fastest time recorded on an inside-the-park homer since Statcast™ debuted last year. It was nearly a second faster than the second-best time this year of 14.85 seconds from Melvin Upton Jr.

"Out of the box, I just took off hard," Buxton said. "I didn't know what would happen. Between first and second, I saw he didn't catch it, so I said to myself, 'This is going to be interesting.' So I felt like I was going faster, but I'm not sure I really was." More >

Statcast: Buxton motors home

Making history: Abreu's single in the third gave him 100 RBIs for the season and made him one of seven players with at least 100 RBIs in each of his first three seasons. Abreu joins Albert Pujols, Ted Williams, Al Simmons, Hideki Matsui, Joe DiMaggio and Pinky Whitney as the only players to accomplish such a feat.

"I'm very happy to accomplish that goal. That was something that was in my mind and I could do it," said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. "I feel very happy, and I want to thank all the people that helped me reach this goal. The White Sox, the trainers, my family, too, all the people who have been around me because it means a lot to me."

Abreu's RBI single

Sano-doubter: Sano gave the Twins a five-run lead with a three-run blast off Sale in the third. Sano's homer left the bat at 103 mph, traveling a projected 398 feet to left. It was his 25th of the year and also was the 200th of the year for the Twins, which is the third-most in club history.

"Miggy, in what people might call an off-year with inconsistency, injuries and strikeouts, still found some positives with 25 homers and almost 70 RBIs in a partial season," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Those are the things you look for."

QUOTABLE
"That's top tier. Home-to-home, you're not going to see many guys top that. It was fast in real-time. As soon as you saw the funny carom, you knew he was off to the races. If baseball was five bases, he probably would've been safe, too. He was gone." -- Molitor, on Buxton's inside-the-park homer.

"We want to win. We want to win and that's the most important thing. And I want to win with the White Sox." -- Abreu, on the White Sox future

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Buxton's homer was his 10th of the year, which helped the Twins tie a Major League record with 11 players reaching double-digits in homers this season. They tied the record set by the 2015 Astros and 2004 Tigers.

BY THE NUMBERS
The White Sox clinched a winning record at home, 45-36, for the first time since 2012. But they also finished 23-44 against the American League Central.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.