White Sox-Twins Preview
Thursday night's rainout could end up being a positive for the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.
After another tense matchup with the second-place Detroit Tigers was postponed, the White Sox will open a three-game set against the last-place Minnesota Twins with ace Chris Sale on the mound Friday night at Target Field.
The White Sox's division lead was cut to one game after they dropped two of three during their crucial four-game set with the Tigers - including an 8-6 loss Wednesday - but the series finale was pushed back until Monday due to inclement weather.
Manager Robin Ventura said games for both his club and Detroit are important no matter which team each is playing.
"There's going to be a lot of tough games coming up and we'll face more good pitchers and they'll face our pitchers," Ventura said after the White Sox avoided facing Justin Verlander. "It's fun. For guys that are playing, this is a lot better than what other teams have going on right now.''
Chicago (76-66) retained sole possession of first place for at least one more night, and rather than facing surging Detroit, it will play a Minnesota team it's beaten 11 times in 15 games in 2012.
Sale (16-6, 2.88 ERA), who was scheduled to start Thursday, gets an extra day of rest after allowing one run in six innings of Saturday's 5-4 win over Kansas City.
"My first few innings were kind of erratic, all over the place and, honestly, just try to go out there and battle it out," Sale said. "It was just something I kind of had to find again and get back to where I was."
The left-hander has gone 1-3 with a 4.81 ERA over his previous four starts, but a fifth day off may do him some good - he's 8-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 12 starts on such occasions. Sale also has won both of his starts against the Twins this season, allowing two hits in seven innings of a 6-0 victory May 23 and giving up two runs in seven innings of a 12-5 win June 27.
The White Sox took two of three at home against the Twins from Sept. 3-5, but they've lost nine of 10 on the road heading to Target Field on Friday.
Minnesota (60-84), which is tied with Cleveland for last in the Central, rallied for a 4-3, 10-inning victory over Kansas City on Thursday. Denard Span drove in Alexi Casilla with the winning run after Trevor Plouffe homered in the ninth to tie it.
''I felt better at the plate," Plouffe said. " I didn't play yesterday so (hitting coach Joe) Vavra and I worked a lot in the cage just figuring some things out so I felt comfortable. It's something I've got to build on.''
Josh Willingham hit his 34th homer for the Twins, who are 6-13 at home since July 31 - a stretch that began with the White Sox taking the final two of a three-game set.
Minnesota has dropped 10 of the last 13 home meetings with Chicago, and it will send Esmerling Vasquez to the mound. Vasquez (0-1, 9.35) will make his third start after allowing four runs and walking five in three innings of Minnesota's 8-7 loss to Cleveland on Sunday. He's walked eight and struck out only four in 8 2-3 combined innings.
The right-hander made a relief appearance against the White Sox while pitching for Arizona on June 19, 2011, giving up five runs in one-third of an inning.