White Sox-Twins Preview
Though they entered the season with playoff aspirations, the Minnesota Twins will have to make history to recover from their worst start in more than a century.
As Carlos Rodon tries to lead the Chicago White Sox to a third straight win, Phil Hughes looks to continue his success at Target Field on Wednesday night with the Twins mired in their longest losing streak to begin a season since 1904.
Minnesota is hoping to build on its surprising emergence last year, when it finished three games out of a playoff spot. The club, however, has totaled 13 runs while going an MLB-worst 5 for 55 (.091) with runners in scoring position in opening 0-7.
It's the franchise's worst start since the Washington Senators lost their first 13 games 112 years ago. No team has ever made the playoffs after dropping its first seven contests.
“The unexpected can happen, and it can be cruel,” manager Paul Molitor told the league's official website. “We haven't had many breaks, but we haven't created any.”
Eduardo Escobar had two of the team's six hits Monday when the Twins went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position in a 4-1 loss in their home opener. Joe Mauer (.375) and Escobar (.370) have gotten off to strong starts, but Brian Dozier (.192), Byron Buxton (.182), Trevor Plouffe (.174), Eddie Rosario (.174), Byung Ho Park (.143) and Miguel Sano (.136) are among those scuffling.
“We have to find a way to get the offense jumpstarted,” Molitor added.
Minnesota will try to do so against Rodon, who was outpitched in his season debut by Oakland's Sonny Gray in a 2-1 road defeat last Wednesday. The left-hander surrendered two runs and struck out six over seven innings.
Rodon has allowed two runs over nine innings in two career games against the Twins. His success usually depends on whether he's able to establish his slider.
“It's a swing-and-miss slider, it kind of disappears on you,” catcher Alex Avila said.
Hughes was in line to win his first start Thursday before Trevor May allowed two inherited runners to score in a 4-2 loss at Baltimore. The veteran right-hander was charged with three runs over his six innings.
Hughes would seem to be the right pitcher to get the Twins on track as he's 13-3 with a 3.38 ERA in his last 20 starts at Target Field. He allowed one run over eight innings of a 6-1 home win in his last meeting with Chicago (5-2) on June 24.
“You know they're going to win their first one at some point,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You focus on what you're doing. This is a good, young team, and no matter what their record is, they can make you have a miserable day.”
Avila went 2 for 3 with a homer off Hughes in 2015, while Austin Jackson was 3 for 7 with a home run. Jose Abreu is 7 for 21 with three doubles lifetime in the matchup.
Jackson broke Monday's game open with a two-run single in the fourth inning.
The White Sox have averaged 5.2 runs while batting .306 with runners in scoring position in wins, but totaled two runs with a .158 average in losses.
Adam Eaton is 10 for 24 overall while Melky Cabrera has gone 6 for 15 over his last four games.