Minnesota made sure it would enter the series finale with no worse than a share of first place in the AL Central by beating Texas 5-2 on Saturday.
“Denny (Hocking) and I drove in today and we talked about how everyone hits one on his bobblehead day,” said Pierzynski, who hadn’t homered since June 30. “That and I hadn’t hit one in a while made me feel pretty good.”
Shannon Stewart had three hits for Minnesota, which has won four straight, seven of nine and 22 of 34. The Twins won a season-high six in a row in April.
The White Sox and Twins could begin a pivotal four-game series Monday in Chicago tied for first place.
Minnesota would appear to have the easiest remaining schedule of the three contending teams in the Central, including Kansas City.
After finishing its series against the White Sox, Minnesota plays 13 of its final 16 games against Cleveland and Detroit—two of the worst teams in the AL. Chicago, meanwhile, closes its season against Boston, Kansas City and the New York Yankees.
Veteran left-hander Kenny Rogers will try to help the Twins complete the sweep as he faces his former team for the second time this season.
Rogers, who pitched for Texas from 1989-95 and again from 2000-02, has not fared well in his last two starts after winning his previous three.
Rogers was reached for six runs, including a season-high three homers, through seven-plus innings Monday in a 10-2 loss to Anaheim. He has yielded 10 runs and 17 hits in his previous two starts, spanning 12 2-3 innings.
Texas has lost three straight after winning three in a row.
STANDINGS: Rangers - 4th place, 21 GB, AL West. Twins - 1st place (tied), AL Central.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Colby Lewis (7-9, 7.85 ERA). After getting hit hard in his two previous starts, Lewis pitched well Monday in a 7-3 victory over Kansas City. He allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings, with no walks and two strikeouts. The right-hander had been 2-6 in his previous 10 appearances. This is Lewis’ first career start against Minnesota.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Rogers (11-7, 4.80 ERA). Rogers gave up four runs and seven hits, including home runs to Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, through seven innings in a 4-1 loss at Texas on July 9. Rogers is 4-2 with a 3.84 ERA in 10 career games against the Rangers.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rangers - Hank Blalock, .312 avg.; Rodriguez, 41 HRs, 102 RBIs, 111 runs and 16 SBs. Twins - Stewart, .314 avg. and 81 runs; Torii Hunter, 23 HRs and 88 RBIs; Cristian Guzman, 16 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 4-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rangers - 3B Blalock is batting just .205 (24-for-117) against left-handers this season. … The Rangers have allowed 39 runs during a five-game road losing streak. … Texas purchased the contract of INF-OF Jermaine Clark from Oklahoma of the Pacific Coast League on Saturday and moved OF Kevin Mench from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Twins - Minnesota has won four straight series and is 31-17 since the All-Star break. … OF Stewart has 24 multi-hit games since joining the Twins, and 49 overall this season. … C Pierzynski has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games.
ROAD/Twins RECORDS: Rangers- 26-45 on the road. Twins - 39-33 at home.
INJURIES: Rangers - OF Juan Gonzalez (calf), 15-day DL; OF Mench (wrist), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (back), 60-day DL; RHP Ricardo Rodriguez (hip), 60-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 60-day DL. Twins - RHP Rick Reed (back), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL.