Twins try to avoid sweep vs. White Sox
By MATT BEARDMORE,
The AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox have struggled against their next two opponents.
That definitely hasn’t been the case against the lowly Minnesota Twins.
Jake Peavy will try to win his fourth consecutive start versus Minnesota on Sunday when Chicago goes for the sweep and a 14th victory over the Twins in 2012.
Monday was supposed to be the White Sox’s final off day of the regular season, but instead of heading to Kansas City, Chicago (78-66) will fly back home to face Detroit in a make-up of Thursday’s rainout that will be the last scheduled meeting between the Central’s top two teams.
The White Sox are just one game above .500 in divisional play – they’ve dropped 12 of 17 to the Tigers and 10 of 15 to the Royals – but they’ve owned the Twins (60-86).
Chicago improved to 13-4 against Minnesota on Saturday when former Twin Francisco Liriano took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a 5-2 victory.
While the decision to move Liriano into the rotation following a one-game bullpen stint worked out, Chicago hopes pushing Peavy (10-11, 3.27 ERA) up a day will too. The right-hander was slated to pitch Monday, but Jose Quintana will start versus the Tigers. That will give the young left-hander and Gavin Floyd, who just came off the disabled list, an extra day of rest.
Peavy has struggled in the second half – opponents are hitting .276 off him during this stretch after batting .213 before the All-Star break – but the right-hander has been at his best versus Minnesota, posting a 1.35 ERA while winning all three starts against the Twins since the Midsummer Classic.
Peavy is 0-6 in his other eight second-half starts.
The Twins, losers of four of five, will counter with Scott Diamond (11-7, 3.46) as these teams conclude their season series.
Minnesota totaled two runs as the left-hander lost his first two starts against the White Sox in 2012, but the Twins gave Diamond plenty of support in an 18-9 victory at Chicago on Sept. 4 when he threw five innings of four-run ball.
Diamond, who has one win in his last six starts after giving up four runs and a career high-tying 10 hits in Tuesday’s 9-1 loss to Royals, has the majors’ highest-run support average at 7.22.
He’s also among the majors’ best with 1.58 walks per nine innings.
Diamond can’t afford to give the White Sox any free base runners. They are batting .282 and scoring 6.1 runs per game against Minnesota this season.
Alex Rios, the only current White Sox with a homer off Diamond, needs one home run to match the fourth-most in a season against the Twins with nine.
Paul Konerko is batting .364 with five homers and 15 RBIs against Twins pitching in 2012 after hitting a two-run shot and driving in three Saturday.
Konerko is second among active players with 48 homers and 126 RBIs versus Minnesota.
It’s uncertain if Joe Mauer or Ryan Doumit will return to the Twins’ lineup. Mauer has missed five games with back spasms, while Doumit has been sidelined since Wednesday with a strained oblique.