Twins-White Sox Preview

At one point last month, the Minnesota Twins were owners of the

worst record in the majors and trailed by 16 1/2 games in the AL


Thanks to a stunning turnaround, the Twins now have a chance to

contend for a third straight division title after the All-Star

break and will try to help themselves Sunday by adding to their

dominance over the Chicago White Sox.

Minnesota dropped to 17-37 following a 4-2 loss in Detroit on

June 1, but has since won 23 of 34 and is threatening to overtake

Chicago in the standings. The Twins (40-48) aided that cause by

rallying for a ninth straight win over the White Sox on Friday but

had that streak snapped with a 4-3 defeat the following day.

Chicago (44-47) scored in each of the final two innings with

Alexei Ramirez’s single driving home the game-winning run. Ramirez

also had a solo home run while helping the White Sox end a

four-game skid.

“You hear about (the struggles against the Twins) and you read

about it. It starts to fester in there and then you get to a point

where you almost try too hard because you want to end it and then

it just snowballs,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “We finally

rallied and found a way in the last couple innings, which is


The Twins, who had claimed the first six matchups this season,

are 28-7 in the past 35 meetings with their AL Central rivals and

have won eight of 11 overall.

Anthony Swarzak (1-2, 3.71 ERA) will try to help Minnesota win a

fourth straight series while filling in for Scott Baker, who has a

strained right flexor muscle. Swarzak threw a pair of scoreless

innings against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, allowing one hit and one


“We had him basically going for (31 pitches), so he’ll be fine,”

manager Ron Gardenhire told the team’s official website.

The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts this

season, winning the previous one in Kansas City on June 2, and will

face the White Sox for the first time.

In its attempt to spoil Swarzak’s return to the rotation,

Chicago could use a better outing from Jake Peavy (4-2, 4.83).

The veteran right-hander has given up at least four runs in each

of his past two starts and allowed five over six innings while

taking the loss in a 5-3 defeat to Kansas City on Tuesday.

He gave up three of those runs in the second inning despite

yielding just one hit during that frame.

“Second inning, no excuses,” Peavy said. “I didn’t get some

close pitches. Obviously I didn’t have the command I normally have.

It cost us there.”

Peavy has no record and a 2.84 ERA in two starts against the

Twins and hasn’t faced them since June 24, 2008, with San


Joe Mauer is 0 for 3 with one strikeout against Peavy but is

hitting .489 (22 of 45) in his last 12 games at U.S. Cellular