By Nate Gotlieb
For at least one night, Hector Noesi showed that the White Sox have a pitcher other than Chris Sale who can dominate hitters.
Noesi won his second-consecutive decision Thursday going 7.2 innings and giving up just three hits, two runs and one walk while striking out three in a 5-2 win over the Twins at Target Field. Through seven innings, Noesi retired 21 of the 23 batters allowing just one hit and one walk.
With the team’s bullpen struggling with injuries, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he appreciated the length Noesi gave the team Thursday. He noted that Noesi’s off-speed pitches were especially sharp, which helped him keep the Twins off-balanced.
“He had a good changeup to righties today, which normally he probably stays away from,” Ventura said. “From when we got him to what he’s doing now, to be able to go out and give you this, it’s definitely steps in the right direction. He’s had some games where he deserved better. Even tonight, one mistake, [but] they really haven’t hit anything hard off him all night.”
Noesi appeared pleased with his start and said that, “everything was working today.”
“When you have command with your fastball, every pitch, you can just mix it, and they’re going to swing and miss,” he said.
The 27-year-old was especially dominant early in the game. He retired the first 11 batters before a shallow single by the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe in fourth inning fell between several charging White Sox outfielders.
Noesi also benefited from an early lead Thursday thanks to five runs by the White Sox offense in the first six innings.
“To be able to get a lead and let our pitchers try to get ahead of guys and not worry about being up one run, it was nice,” center fielder Adam Eaton said. “Hopefully we can continue that.”
Eaton was involved in the attempt to catch Plouffe’s fourth-inning single but was called off at the last second by left fielder Alejandro De Aza. After the game, he joked that he was thankful the Twins got another hit so he wasn’t the one responsible for breaking up the no-hit bid.
“De Aza said he had a good read on it,” Eaton said. “From my stand point I wasn’t 100-percent confident.”
Noesi has just an 8-22 career record with a 5.43 ERA in four Major-League seasons. He originally came up with the Yankees, who traded him to Seattle in 2012. The Rangers acquired him in early April before the White Sox acquired him off waivers later in the month.
Ventura said he’s seen improvement in Noesi’s off-speed pitches since the team acquired him.
“His fastball’s always been pretty lively,” Ventura said. “To be able to add a cutter to it and locate it and to have the feel for the change up in really any count...it’s become effective.”