White Sox-Twins Preview
The Chicago White Sox have made up four games in the standings in just over a week to take over first place in the AL Central.
Two series against the Minnesota Twins have certainly helped.
The White Sox look to win their seventh straight series over the Twins in Wednesday's finale at Target Field.
Chicago (56-47) was 1 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit before sweeping a home series from Minnesota last week. It then opened a six-game road trip by taking two of three from AL West-leading Texas and has split the first two in Minneapolis.
The White Sox moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the Tigers after Tuesday's 4-3 win, their 16th victory in their last 21 meetings with the Twins (44-59). A.J. Pierzynski broke a 2-all tie with a two-run homer in the ninth inning and Francisco Liriano, acquired on Saturday, limited his former team to two runs in six innings.
"We are excited about the position we are in," probable Wednesday starter Jake Peavy (8-7, 3.15 ERA) told the White Sox's official website. "We believe the next two months that, if we go and be the players we know we can be as a unit, we'll get this thing done."
Pierzynski, who also hit a three-run home run in Monday's 7-6 loss, has matched his career high of 18 homers, set in 2005. The White Sox have relied heavily on the long ball. Their 126 homers rank fourth in the majors, and they are 7-23 when they don't go deep.
Peavy (8-7, 3.15 ERA) benefited from a pair of home runs against the Twins last Wednesday, finally getting some run support in an 8-2 win as he allowed two runs with six strikeouts in six innings. The All-Star right-hander had received 11 total runs of support in his previous seven outings, going 1-6 despite a 3.51 ERA.
"There is a difference when you get some runs," said Peavy, who is 7-0 in the 10 starts in which he's received at least four runs of support. "You can be aggressive and relax a little bit. It's a different ballgame when you're pitching with a lead."
The White Sox are averaging 8.0 runs in their last six games against the Twins, but could have trouble generating much offense against Scott Diamond (9-4, 2.88).
Diamond tossed a three-hitter against Cleveland on Friday, walking none and striking out six in an 11-0 win. It was the first career shutout for the rookie left-hander, who leads the Twins in wins and has the lowest ERA in the Minnesota rotation.
"My approach right now is to be as simple as I can be," he said, "and because of that I've been consistent.''
Diamond had some problems in his lone start of the season against the White Sox on May 23 in Chicago, giving up five runs - two earned - and nine hits in six innings of a 6-0 loss.
The Twins, who had a four-game winning streak end Tuesday, were relatively quiet at the trade deadline.
Denard Span, who was openly worried about being traded and expressed relief once the deadline passed, had four singles Tuesday but his teammates combined for three hits.
Josh Willingham, who leads the Twins with 27 homers and ranks third in the AL with 79 RBIs, was 0 for 3 and is hitless in 12 career at-bats against Peavy.