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BIG Series: Tied with 50 to go, Sox and Twins meet in Chicago

Big League Stew

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As the pennant races get hotter and hotter, Big League Stew will be there to take a closer look at some of the biggest series taking place down the stretch.

Minnesota at Chicago

The Situation: Though five of baseball's six division races feature two teams within two games of each other, the AL Central is the only one featuring a dead heat after 112 games.

That will change, however, after the three-game series that starts Tuesday night between the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins.

Previously on: Minnesota leads the season series, 6-3, and recently took three of four from Chicago in the series right after the All-Star break in July.

What's left: The two teams will meet in Minnesota for a three-game series next Tuesday through Thursday, then finish with a three-game set in Chicago from Sept. 14-16.

For starters: Scott Baker(notes) (9-8, 4.70) goes for Minnesota Tuesday night while Freddy Garcia(notes) (10-4, 4.56) will sweat for Chicago. Glen Perkins and John Danks(notes) are set to be mismatched on Wednesday, followed by a great pairing of Francisco Liriano(notes) and Gavin Floyd(notes) in Thursday's finale.

Super storylines

Will The Cell prove home sweet home for White Sox sluggers? Though the Pale Hose have been red hot ever since they found themselves 9.5 games out on June 9, they just experienced a rare slump in Baltimore. Orioles Magic overpowered them in three of four games and the White Sox only scored a total of 10 runs.

Can Scott Baker start the Twins off right? With that tough Perkins-Danks matchup looming in Game 2, it's important that Minnesota get a strong effort from Baker in Game 1. The righty is 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA over his last three starts and is coming off eight scoreless innings thrown against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Where will Justin Morneau(notes) be watching from? The Twins first baseman had planned to travel to Chicago so he could take batting practice with the team as he recovers from the effects of a concussion. His trip, however, was nixed and Minnesota continues to be vague about his progress. The Twins will have to draw inspiration from elsewhere.

When will Gordon Beckham(notes) return? Chicago's resurgent second baseman strained his groin on Sunday and isn't in the lineup for Tuesday night's game.

Will Ozzie Guillen turn to CNN for help with Ron Gardenhire? If he reads the Stew, he will.

What they're saying

Seth Stohs, Twins Centric:

"To say that these games mean nothing would also be underplaying their significance. Think about this: Since 2002, the team that won the season series between these two teams ended the season with the better record. If we believe that the Tigers are all but eliminated (which is probably an assumption we shouldn't make quite yet), the team with the better record between the White Sox and Twins should be the division winner."

Jon Greenberg, ESPN Chicago:

"Given how tight the Sox and Twins are, and always seem to be, any considerable advantage obtained in the next week could have a major impact on the teams' fortunes this fall. Good thing the Sox are coming home for the first leg, where they're 18-2 over their last three homestands. After four days in Baltimore, I have a feeling the South Side is going to feel pretty inviting."
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