Frank Thomas has emerged from his slump at the perfect time.
“We are fighting for the division right now,” Thomas said. “We have to play up to our potential and find a way to win all four games, if we can.
“The least we can win is three out of four. That will be our motto, but we would like to win all four.”
Thomas hit a three-run homer with two out in the seventh inning Sunday to break an 0-for-11 slide, leading the White Sox to a 7-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians and keeping them tied with the Twins for first place in the Central.
Chicago swept the three-game series and is 10 games above .500 for the first time this season.
The Twins and White Sox are also two of the hottest teams in the majors since the All-Star break. The White Sox are 31-17 since the nominal second-half began, while the Twins are a major league-best 32-17 since the break.
The Twins completed a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers with Sunday’s 5-4, 10-inning victory, as Torii Hunter ended the contest with a sacrifice fly. Minnesota has also won five straight and 10 of 13.
“It was a good win for us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Now we get to go on and have some fun in Chi-town. We’re just going to go play some baseball, do some work and get ready to take some swings at them and see what happens.
“It ought to be a lot of fun.”
The Twins open the series with their hottest pitcher on the mound.
Lohse has won six of his last seven starts, capped with Tuesday’s 12-6 victory over the reigning World Series champion Anaheim Angels. The 24-year-old right-hander, who has a 4.02 ERA during the stretch, allowed four runs and 12 hits, striking out one and walking one.
STANDINGS: Twins - 1st place (tied), AL Central. White Sox - 1st place (tied), AL Central.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Lohse (12-10, 4.87 ERA). Lohse is 5-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 career appearances, including 11 starts, against the White Sox.
WHITE SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Bartolo Colon (12-12, 4.08 ERA). Acquired in the offseason to be the ace of their staff, Colon is 2-3 with a 5.73 ERA over his last five starts. However, the burly right-hander was a hard-luck loser Tuesday, tossing a two-hitter in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Colon, who struck out five and walked one, was beaten by two solo homers. In 16 career appearances against the Twins, including 15 starts, Colon is 6-4 with a 4.33 ERA and one shutout.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Twins - Shannon Stewart, .314 avg. and 81 runs; Hunter, 23 HRs and 88 RBIs; Cristian Guzman, 16 SBs. White Sox - Magglio Ordonez, .321 avg. and 88 runs; Thomas, 39 HRs; Carlos Lee, 98 RBIs and 16 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: White Sox, 7-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Twins - OF Jones is batting .393 in 28 career at-bats against RHP Colon with one double, one homer and eight RBIs. … OF Stewart was not in the starting lineup Sunday because of a sore hamstring. He had started 46 consecutive games, either in the outfield or at DH, but his status for Monday’s opener is undetermined. … OF Hunter is hitting .313 (15-for-48) over his last 11 games with four doubles, a triple, a homer and seven RBIs. White Sox - OF Lee is hitting .391 in 23 career at-bats against RHP Lohse with three doubles, three homers and four RBIs. … 1B Paul Konerko, who barely .200 over the season’s first half, is hitting .525 (21-for-40) with six home runs and 16 RBIs over his last 10 games and has 12 homers and 41 RBIs since the break. … OF Ordonez is looking to become only the third White Sox player to win a batting title, joining Thomas (1997) and Luke Appling (1936, 1943). Ordonez, who is hitting .381 (83-for-218) over his last 57 games, is batting .321 this season—one point behind the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Twins - 36-33 on the road; White Sox - 46-25 at home.