If the Chicago White Sox want to make a mark on the bunched up American League Central, now would be a good time to do it.
The White Sox open a four-game series at Minnesota on Thursday night and then won’t see another division team until they close out the first half with a July 11-13 series at Cleveland. Between the division series, the White Sox will face the Orioles, Blue Jays, Angels, Mariners and Red Sox.
The 35-37 White Sox are two games better in the standings than the 32-38 Twins, and while the offenses have proven to be much different, the pitching staffs have delivered like numbers.
The White Sox are fourth in the AL with 319 runs scored, while the Twins are ninth at 297. On the pitching side, the Twins have a 4.32 ERA (13th in the AL), while the White Sox have a 4.35 mark (14th). White Sox starters are last in the AL with a combined 4.69 ERA, while the Twins are tied for 13th at 4.67.
The Twins make up their offensive difference with the White Sox by committing 14 less errors and holding a .985 fielding percentage to the White Sox’s .980 mark.
But the White Sox head to Target Field knowing they have had a fair amount of success there in recent years. Since Aug. 5, 2011, the White Sox are 18-8 at Minnesota, although they were just 5-5 there last year. The series will be the White Sox’s first of three visits to Target Field in the final 3½ months of the season.
HEAD TO HEAD
Alexei Ramirez is 6-for-10 (.600) against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco with six RBIs. ... Adam Dunn has six hits in 23 at-bats against Twins starter Kevin Correia and three of those hits have been home runs. ... Gordon Beckham is just 1-for-14 (.071) against Twins starter Phil Hughes, while Moises Sierra is 7-for-14 (.500) against him with five RBIs. No White Sox player has more hits against Hughes than Sierra. ... The Twins’ Joe Mauer is 7-for-15 (.467) against Jose Quintana with two home runs, while Josh Willingham is 8-for-15 (.533) against the left-hander. ... The Twins’ Kendrys Morales is 3-for-5 in his career against Hector Noesi with two home runs. ... The Twins are the only American League Central team Andre Rienzo doesn’t have a decision against. He has a 3.97 ERA against them in two starts (11 1/3 innings). ... Mauer is 20-for-53 (3.77) in his career against John Danks, but Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki and Josh Willingham are a combined 5-for-38 (.132) against the lefty.
The White Sox were one game from a three-game sweep in the opening series of the season, but lost the finale 10-9. ... The White Sox are 18-10 against the Twins at Target Field since 2010. ... Ronald Belisario, who has been the White Sox’s closer since Matt Lindstrom was injured in mid-May, has converted his last four save opportunities. ... Dunn has reached base in 50 of his 60 games this season. ... Conor Gillaspie is batting .364 (36-for-99) over his last 25 games and has five multi-hit efforts over his last 10 games. ... Tyler Flowers was hitless in 25 at-bats before his two-run single Wednesday against the Giants. ... Adam Eaton has reached base in 13 consecutive games and is batting .333 (17-for-51) over that stretch. ... At age 30, the Twins’ Yohan Pino, will be the oldest starting pitcher to make his major league debut in franchise history when he takes the mound Thursday. The right-hander was 9-1 with a 1.92 ERA at Triple-A Rochester. ... Former White Sox prospect Eduardo Escobar is batting .303 with a .349 on-base percentage in 58 games for the Twins.
Thursday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (3-7, 3.98 ERA) vs. Twins RH Yohan Pino (MLB debut), 7:10 p.m. CST
Friday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (2-5, 5.37) vs. Twins RH Ricky Nolasco (4-5, 5.66), 7:10 p.m. CST
Saturday: White Sox RH Andre Rienzo (4-4, 5.67) vs. Twins RH Kevin Correia (3-8, 5.29), 1:10 p.m. CST
Sunday: White Sox LH John Danks (6-5, 3.97) vs. Twins RH Phil Hughes (7-3, 3.09) 1:10 p.m. CST