Torii Hunter and the Twins look to stay hot on Sunday against the rival White Sox, at Target Field.
Bruce Kluckhohn/Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Twins’ offense has come around over the last eight games, and it’s happened without yet taking any swings against John Danks.
Things could continue trending in the right direction Sunday as they try for a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox, though it’s not just the visitors’ starter who has struggled when these teams get together.
Minnesota (12-12) got back to .500 for the first time since May 24 with Saturday’s 5-3 victory. The last time it won four straight happened to be a four-game home sweep of Chicago from June 19-22, and the Twins are 9-4 at Target Field against the White Sox (8-13) dating to that series.
Things have been otherwise depressing for the Twins since being 23-23 nearly a year ago with a 59-82 record, but since a 2-0 loss in Seattle on April 24, they’ve gone 6-2 with a .291 average and 5.50 runs per game.
Mike Pelfrey has needed that kind of offense against the White Sox, though he had a strong April.
Pelfrey (2-0, 2.25 ERA) earned his second win in as many starts in Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over Detroit. The right-hander, who hadn’t had consecutive wins in his previous two seasons in Minnesota, allowed two runs — one earned — and three hits in seven innings. Pelfrey last won three straight starts from May 17-June 1, 2010, when he strung four together for the New York Mets.
Last season, Pelfrey was limited to five starts because of a groin injury.
"I’m healthy, so I have high expectations of myself," Pelfrey told MLB’s official website. "I feel good. I have a lot of confidence in myself that when I’m healthy, I’m going to get guys out and hopefully it keeps happening on the field."
His season started against Chicago in disappointing fashion, when he surrendered four runs and seven hits – two of which left the yard – in five innings of a 5-4 road loss on April 11.
Those numbers are pretty consistent for him against the White Sox with a 0-3 record and 6.75 ERA in six starts that have all come with the Twins. Adam LaRoche homered off him last month and is 10 for 15 in their matchups.
Danks (1-2, 5.64) has allowed at least three runs in each of his four starts, though he earned his first win in last Sunday’s 5-3 home victory over Kansas City. The left-hander, however, has lost his first two road starts and is 7-16 with a 5.27 ERA in 30 away starts since the start of 2013.
Those struggles have been most prominent at Target Field, where Danks is 1-3 with a 9.55 ERA in four starts in that time as part of a 3-7 record and 6.59 ERA in 14 career starts in Minnesota.
He’s faced Joe Mauer more than anyone in his career, and the Minnesota first baseman is 23 for 58 (.397), though 20 of the hits are singles. Torii Hunter (16 of 50) is one of three other players with at least 50 at-bats against Danks, and the veteran has homered four times and also went deep Saturday. Eduardo Nunez is 5 for 11 while hitting for a collective cycle.
Chicago, an AL-worst 2-10 on the road, is in danger of dropping its fifth straight and sixth in a row away from U.S. Cellular Field. It’s scored eight runs on the road skid.
"For us, we just need something to fall through when we get a lot of guys on," manager Robin Ventura said. "We had some opportunities, we’re just not cashing in on them right now. Eventually that’s going to happen for us."
Jose Abreu is 3 for 21 against Minnesota this season.