Twins-White Sox Preview
The Minnesota Twins have the worst record in the American League but they don't play anything like that when they visit U.S. Cellular Field.
Following another big offensive showing in Chicago, the Twins look to extend their best stretch of the season Wednesday night with another road win against the White Sox.
This has been a very disappointing first two months for Minnesota (15-27), which up until Tuesday owned the worst record in the majors. The Twins, though, entered this series with four wins in five games and continued that run with a 9-2 rout Tuesday.
Justin Morneau capped a five-run fourth with a three-run homer and P.J. Walters threw a five-hitter to help Minnesota win for the 18th time in 23 games at U.S. Cellular. That run began with a 20-1 victory on May 21, 2009, and the Twins have averaged 6.4 runs, hit 26 homers and recorded double-digit hits 14 times in that span.
During its 5-1 surge the past week, Minnesota has scored 44 runs and is batting .284. Morneau has keyed the offense with three three-RBIs games after he drove in three total in his previous 10 contests.
Joe Mauer went 1 for 3 with two walks Tuesday and is batting .467 in his last 15 games in Chicago.
Gordon Beckham hit his third homer in four games for the White Sox (21-22), who allowed seven runs during a season high-tying four-game win streak. They've lost 13 of 18 at home.
"We just didn't have it,'' manager Robin Ventura said.
First baseman Paul Konerko returned to Chicago's lineup four days after being hit in the face by a pitch. He had two of his team's five hits.
The Twins would appear to have a good chance at winning again at U.S. Cellular with the way Scott Diamond (3-0, 1.40 ERA) has been throwing.
The left-hander has been the team's best starter lately, yielding no runs in his first two outings before beating Milwaukee in his most recent start. His 14-inning scoreless streak was snapped in Friday's 11-3 road win, but he limited the Brewers to three runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings.
"I'm getting to really know our defense, and I'm feeling a lot more comfortable out on the mound,'' said Diamond, who has walked two and struck out 13.
Diamond went 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two starts last season against the White Sox.
Chicago counters with an impressive young southpaw of its own in Chris Sale (4-2, 2.91), who made a smooth return to the rotation Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels after appearing once in relief. Sale struck out seven and was working on a three-hit shutout in the sixth when he gave up a one-out homer and a double before being replaced.
"I have a job to do, and that's to go out and keep my team in the game, keep the other team to fewer runs on the board than the other starter and pitch deep into the game," Sale said. "That's my main focus.''
This will be Sale's first start against the Twins, but he's allowed one run and five hits in nine innings over eight relief appearance, walking one and striking out 12.