White Sox-Twins Preview

Losses have been piling up lately for the Chicago White Sox.

They’ve experienced much of the same against the Minnesota

Twins.

The White Sox begin a seven-game trip hoping to avoid a

season-worst-tying seventh consecutive loss overall and an 11th

defeat in 12 meetings with the Twins as the teams play the first of

three Friday night.

Chicago (52-58), which dropped seven in a row April 13-20, finds

itself on the verge of matching that disappointing stretch after

suffering a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees,

capped by a 7-2 loss Thursday.

Manager Ozzie Guillen’s club has been outscored 49-16 during its

losing streak, which started with back-to-back losses to Boston

over the weekend.

“We just got killed for four games,” said captain Paul Konerko,

who went 2 for 3 at DH on Thursday in his first game back after

missing three with a bruised left calf. “Going back to the Boston

series, the last two were tough, too.”

While the White Sox didn’t measure up against the AL’s top two

teams, they haven’t experienced much success against the

fourth-place Twins, either. Chicago’s lost seven of eight to

Minnesota this season and 29 of 36 dating to July 12, 2009.

Following a 4-6 road trip, the Twins (51-60) return home eight

games behind AL Central-leading Detroit and 1 1/2 back of

third-place Chicago. One night after matching its largest run total

of the season during an 11-4 win against the Los Angeles Angels,

Minnesota capped its trek with a 7-1 loss Thursday.

The Twins could be in for another difficult night at the plate

against Mark Buehrle (8-5, 3.21 ERA), who yielded two runs and five

hits in six innings of Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Boston – extending his

MLB-leading run of allowing three runs or fewer to 16 consecutive

starts.

He’s surrendered a combined six runs in his last four starts at

Minnesota, although he’s just 1-2 in those outings. The left-hander

has allowed one earned run in two outings spanning 15 innings

versus the Twins this year, but he’s 0-1.

No one has faced Buehrle more than Michael Cuddyer, who’s gone

33 for 98 against him. In contrast, Joe Mauer is just 11 for 53

(.208).

Jim Thome has also struggled against Buehrle, going 5 for 25

with 13 strikeouts and two homers. The slugging DH homered

Thursday, extending his hitting streak to nine games and pulling

within two home runs of becoming the eighth player to reach

600.

“When you look at those guys in that club, it would be very

special, obviously. It would be magical,” said Thome, who hit No.

500 while with the White Sox on Sept. 16, 2007. “I know it’s taken

a long time to get though this journey to this point.”

Minnesota gives the ball to Nick Blackburn (7-8, 4.49), who

looks to bounce back from yet another ugly performance. The

right-hander allowed seven runs – six earned – and 10 hits in 4 1-3

innings of Saturday’s 8-3 loss at Oakland, falling to 1-3 with an

8.37 ERA over his last seven outings.

“Blackie really labored as you saw,” manager Ron Gardenhire

said. “Too many talks at the mound, the whole package. A lot of not

connecting out there. He is going through a little bit of a scuffle

period.”

Despite allowing five runs and 10 hits in five innings of an 8-5

win at U.S. Cellular Field on July 8, Blackburn is 7-1 with a 3.13

ERA over his last nine starts against the White Sox.