Following horrendous 2015 campaigns, Mat Latos and Ricky Nolasco gave their respective rotations an early boost before coming back to Earth the last time out.
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Latos appears to have an easy landing spot Friday night against a Minnesota Twins team he dominated last month as the Chicago White Sox try to avoid a season high-tying third straight loss in the opener of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
After going 4-10 with a 4.95 ERA for three clubs last season, Latos (4-0, 1.84 ERA) allowed two runs while winning his first four starts. However, he finally looked vulnerable Saturday when he gave up four over five innings in an 8-7 win at Baltimore.
Now the right-hander should feel comfortable about returning to his early-season form. He held the Twins to one run and three hits over six innings in a 3-1 road victory April 14.
Chicago struck out 22 while limiting Minnesota to two runs in that three-game sweep.
The Twins (8-20) rank near the bottom of the majors with 3.5 runs per game, though they’ve shown some life of late by averaging 4.8 over their last four. Brian Dozier is 6 for 11 in his last three after hitting his fourth home run in Wednesday’s 16-4 loss at Houston.
"We have to keep our heads up," starter Phil Hughes told the league’s official website. "There are a lot of really talented guys in here. We have to keep plugging forward. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. Maybe our parents will, but that’s about it. We need to stay loose and have fun."
Minnesota will try to generate some offense for Nolasco (1-0, 4.05) as it looks to avoid its seventh loss in eight games. The right-hander is also hoping to rebound from his worst start of the season after giving up five runs over 5 2/3 innings in Sunday’s 6-5 loss to Detroit.
Nolasco had been a pleasant surprise with a 3.25 ERA over his first four starts after posting a career-worst 6.75 mark last season. He’s 0-2 with a 6.63 ERA in three road starts versus Chicago (19-10).
Brett Lawrie is 4 for 7 with a double off him while Dioner Navarro is 7 for 15 with a home run and two doubles and Melky Cabrera has gone 9 for 22 with a homer. Cabrera is also 8 for 17 over his past four games against the Twins and Lawrie is batting .351 during a 14-game hitting streak against them dating to his time with Toronto.
Jose Abreu is 3 for 8 with a long ball when facing Nolasco, and he had been hitting .438 with 10 RBIs over an eight-game stretch before going 0 for 5 in Thursday’s 7-3 loss to Boston. The White Sox haven’t dropped three in a row at home since Aug. 2-4.
"We had a lot of opportunities," manager Robin Ventura said.
Avisail Garcia, though, was 2 for 4 with a home run in his return from a four-game absence due to a hamstring injury. He’s 8 for 18 with two homers over his last five.
Minnesota had success at Chicago last season, winning four of the six meetings.