Twins-White Sox preview
CHICAGO -- Finding ways to win in the American League's Central Division has been an issue for both the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins this season.
But as the White Sox look to return to their winning ways and the Twins hope to build on what's been their most successful month to date, reversing course against divisional opponents moving forward will be key.
The White Sox and Twins wrap up their three game series at U.S. Cellular Field Thursday before both teams venture outside the Central this weekend.
For the White Sox, in-division competition of late has been especially painful even after the White Sox won for only the fourth time in their last 20 divisional games with Wednesday's 9-6 victory.
Although the White Sox will clinch their third consecutive series with a win on Thursday, they haven't been nearly as successful against their Central Division neighbors -- and the teams they face the most each season.
"You have to pick it up a little bit in your division," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said this week.
Thursday's game will mark the ninth time the Twins and White Sox have faced one another this season. The White Sox won the first six games and outscored Minnesota 30-9 before being shut out 4-0 in Tuesday's series opener. Chicago regained some of their form Wednesday behind James Shields' first win for Chicago since coming over in a trade with San Diego.
But the Twins are about the only division opponent the White Sox have had success against during their recent troubling stretch. Chicago is 1-6 against Cleveland, 2-7 against Kansas City and 2-4 against Detroit.
And even after improving to 7-1 against Minnesota, Ventura knows things have to improve against other divisional opponents. White Sox third baseman said familiarity with one another may play a factor in Chicago's troubles.
Maybe they know us a little bit," Frazier said. "They may know our tendencies a little more. There is no real rhyme or reason."
Twins manager Paul Molitor is hoping his players have taken their struggles against divisional opponents personally. Teams like the White Sox had their way with the Twins earlier this season.
And yet after coming within a win of earning their first series victory over the White Sox since last September, Molitor said his team has to find ways to build off wins like Tuesday's 4-0 shutout.
Wednesday's loss -- which included a five-run, ninth-inning Twins' rally that saw the tying run come to the plate -- was the latest example of the Twins being unable to string together multiple wins.
"It's not like you're expecting to go out and reel off a long winning streak -- it would be great if you were able to do that," Molitor said. "You just want to see more consistency. We don't make a tough play (Wednesday), we have a base-running mistake that I thought it was costly -- those can be momentum-changers -- and you go from being in a pretty close game to trailing by eight runs."