Yet the rubber game between the two teams that occupy the last spots in the American League Central was shaping up as a tight tussle, just as the first two.
Then came the eighth inning.
The Twins turned in a whopping nine runs in the penultimate frame -- six before registering an out -- on nine hits from 14 batters.
"Goodness gracious," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The ball starting flying all over the place. Everything seemed to land somewhere -- bloops and blops, and some homers too."
Every starter on Sunday registered a hit, while Josh Willingham and Chris Colabello were the only Twins to go without an RBI. Oswaldo Arcia, meanwhile, was the only starter not to cross the plate.
Danny Santana, who went a career-best 5-for-6 with four RBIs and two stolen bases, came within a homer of the cycle.
"That's the first time in my life," Santana said.
The Twins kept it rolling in the ninth, scoring another three runs on five hits and a walk scattered over another round through the lineup.
Chris Parmelee, Arcia and Eric Fryer belted back-to-back-to-back homers, a Twins first since July 12, 2001, against the Brewers.
"It seemed OK until the sixth, and after that, it just got loose and you couldn't stop it," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Kyle Gibson cruised through the White Sox lineup until the fourth. Conor Gillaspie and Alexei Ramirez hit consecutive doubles with one out, bringing home Chicago's first run. An out later, Dayan Viciedo belted a two-run homer on a first-pitch fastball to break the tie and give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.
Gibson earned his 12th quality start in 21 tries. The second-year starter owns a 0.83 ERA when pitching at least seven innings, and a 0.96 ERA during his 10 wins.
"As a starter, I want to go out there and throw six, seven, eight innings every time," Gibson said. "And I had to battle through a couple innings there and try to keep my pitch count down. The first couple innings helped out with that, and I made a couple pitches there in the later innings when I needed to."
Gibson threw 105 pitches (74 strikes) over seven innings with three earned runs, six hits, no walks and six strikeouts.
He said his off period with a sore back was utilized for more than just rest.
"I looked at the numbers over the 10 days I had back stiffness and I was just throwing too many fastballs in hitters' counts," Gibson said. "Fryer, Kurt Suzuki and I talked and we just decided to kind of mix it up a little bit earlier and mix a little more off-speed in there."
Trailing, 3-1, in the sixth, Minnesota scored three runs on four hits from eight batters. Colabello, Fryer and Eduardo Nunez each lined singles in four at-bats, the latter picking up an RBI. Santana followed with a two-run double to snag a 4-3 lead.
In the first, Kennys Vargas was hit by Jose Quintana with the bases loaded, but the White Sox starter was able to force a 1-2-3 double play on Colabello to end the inning. The Twins also stranded runners in scoring position during the second.
Quintana, despite the early jams, allowed just one unearned run, five hits and two walks with five strikeouts scattered over 115 pitches in five innings.
"We made him work. We made him throw pitches," Gardenhire said of Quintana. "Unfortunately, we couldn't break through and have that big inning to get a big lead because we left some out there. He still hung in there pretty doggone good like he always seems to do."
The game weathered two rain delays totaling 45 minutes in the first and second innings, yielding the total time from first pitch to last out at four hours, 46 minutes.