Twins-White Sox Preview

Mark Buehrle provided possibly the highlight of the season

Monday. There have been very few good ones for the Chicago White

Sox since then.

The team’s only winning pitcher looks to help the White Sox

avoid a fifth consecutive loss and their worst start in 15 years

Sunday as Buehrle tries to cool off the visiting Minnesota

Twins.

Chicago’s season got off to a rousing start, with Buehrle

allowing three singles in seven innings of a 6-0 victory over

Cleveland. The play of the game was Buehrle – a 2009 Gold Glove

winner – deflecting a grounder off his foot, grabbing the ball with

his glove in foul territory and flipping it between his legs to

first base for the out.

“I take pride in fielding my position as good as I can,” Buehrle

said.

Now he’ll be counted on to get the White Sox (1-4) out of their

funk. A loss Sunday would give the franchise its worst start since

opening 1-7 in 1995. During their four-game losing streak, they’ve

been held to 10 runs while batting .180 – 4 for 28 with runners in

scoring position.

“I think a lot of guys are pressing, a lot of guys are trying to

do too much,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I think I saw a couple

of guys try to hit the ball out of the ballpark when they should be

pleased and happy with a base hit. I think everybody wants to be a

hero.”

Minnesota (5-1) is batting .238, but Jason Kubel hit the team’s

10th homer Saturday in a 2-1 win. Winners of five straight, the

Twins will match their longest win streak from last season with a

victory Sunday, as well as post their best record through seven

games since 1968.

“We’ve got some guys who can put it in the seats,” manager Ron

Gardenhire said. “We try to run around a little bit, but it’s

pretty easy when you hit it in the seats and you get to jog

around.”

Buehrle (1-0, 0.00 ERA) has served up 231 homers the last

nine-plus seasons, third-most in the majors.

He beat the Twins the first two times he faced them last year,

but was 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his final four starts against them.

He’s 23-16 with a 4.09 ERA lifetime against Minnesota.

The left-hander has done well against Minnesota’s lefty-hitting

stars, holding Justin Morneau to a .196 average and Joe Mauer to

.229. Denard Span is 10 for 20 with two homers against Buehrle, but

he’s batting .125 in 2010.

No batter has faced Buehrle more than Twins right fielder

Michael Cuddyer, who is 26 for 83 (.313) against him. Cuddyer is 4

for 6 versus lefties this season.

Minnesota counters with Nick Blackburn (1-0, 4.05).

He carried his success from late last season into this year,

allowing three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 win over the Los

Angeles Angels on Tuesday. Including that effort, he’s 3-0 with a

2.12 ERA in his last five regular-season starts.

The right-hander has won his last four starts against the White

Sox, going seven innings each time and allowing a total of five

runs. He hasn’t surrendered a run in his last 14 innings at U.S.

Cellular Field.

Alexei Ramirez is 8 for 19 (.421) against Blackburn. A .283

hitter with 36 homers and 145 RBIs in two big-league seasons

entering 2010, Ramirez is 3 for 19 without an RBI.