Twins-White Sox Preview
The Chicago White Sox’s opening day victory was a refreshing start after a dismal 2013.
The Minnesota Twins were plagued by many of the same problems that led to a second straight 96-loss season last year.
Chicago looks to follow up its impressive first game with its seventh win in eight meetings as it hosts Minnesota on Wednesday.
Coming off their first last-place finish since 1989, the White Sox won 5-3 over the Twins on Monday in a well-rounded performance. Chris Sale limited Minnesota to three runs over 7 1/3 innings and five White Sox had two hits apiece, with Alejandro De Aza homering twice for the first time in his career.
Cuban defector Jose Abreu doubled off Ricky Nolasco on the first major league pitch he saw in the second inning and drove in the go-ahead run with a third-inning single. Abreu’s start at first base ended Paul Konerko’s streak of consecutive opening day starts for Chicago at 15.
"You wanted to get that first one out of the way," Abreu said through an interpreter. "Once you get it, it’s a very happy moment."
The 38-year-old Konerko will mostly play against left-handed starters.
The Twins opened with a loss for the sixth consecutive season. After their starters posted a major league-worst 5.33 ERA and 78 wins over the last two years, they signed free agents Nolasco and Phil Hughes in an attempt to upgrade the rotation.
Nolasco struggled Monday, however, allowing five runs and 10 hits in six innings. The White Sox got to him early, scoring two runs in both the second and third innings.
Kevin Correia (9-13, 4.18 ERA) will take the mound Wednesday after leading Minnesota in victories in his first year with the club. The right-hander was 2-2 with a 3.21 ERA in his first four career starts against Chicago last season, pitching into at least the seventh inning each time.
Correia could use more support than what the Twins provided Nolasco on Monday. After striking out a major league-record 408 times with runners in scoring position in 2013 and hitting an AL-worst .225 in those situations, they were 2 for 8.
Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham each went 0 for 4 overall, ending personal six-game hitting streaks against the White Sox.
Most of Minnesota’s offense came from Kurt Suzuki and Aaron Hicks. Suzuki was 2 for 4 and drove in all three runs in his Twins debut while Hicks was 2 for 3, doubling and scoring a run. His .192 average ranked last among rookies with at least 130 at-bats last season.
Minnesota will face Felipe Paulino, who is making his first start since June 6, 2012, when he faced the Twins. The right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery the next month after starting that season 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in seven outings for Kansas City.
Paulino was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in six starts this spring.
"I feel blessed. Everybody knows my last year and a half was recovery," Paulino told the team’s official website. "…I want to be the same pitcher (I was) before I got injured."
Willingham is 3 for 6 with a home run off Paulino while Mauer has two hits in as many at-bats against him.
De Aza is 4 for 14 off Correia and has batted .333 with four homers and seven RBIs over his last six games against Minnesota.