A loss in their last game, followed by a rainout, slowed the Chicago White Sox’s momentum at least temporarily. Jon Garland looks to help Chicago regain it when he faces Johan Santana in the opener of a four-game series with the resurgent Minnesota Twins on Friday.
The White Sox had won three straight and nine of 11 before a 12-5 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
Rain fell for a good part of that contest, and the weather led to the postponement of Thursday’s game against the Angels. No makeup date was announced.
Garland (2-1, 6.05 ERA) will take the mound looking to begin another run of strong White Sox pitching Friday. The White Sox allowed five runs during their three consecutive wins before rookie knuckleballer Chuck Haeger, called up from the minors to start in place of injured ace Jose Contreras, gave up six runs in 4 1-3 innings Wednesday.
Garland is coming off arguably his best performance of the season but did not receive a decision for the third straight start, allowing one run in seven innings of Chicago’s 5-4 loss to Kansas City last Friday.
The right-hander pitched well in all three of his starts against the Twins last season, allowing four runs in 21 2-3 innings, and the White Sox won them all. He is 5-5 with a 3.99 ERA in 20 games, including 17 starts, against Minnesota.
Chicago (23-10) swept a three-game series from the Twins (15-19) in the teams’ first meeting of the season April 21-23, outscoring Minnesota 23-6.
The Twins, though, are starting to play well after a poor start has left them in fourth place in the AL Central, 8 1/2 games behind the first-place White Sox.
“(The White Sox) are playing very good baseball, but we play good at home,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ve got to try to stay close until we get clicking.”
While Gardenhire’s team has some work to do to get back in the division race, this four-game set gives the Twins the chance to make up some ground quickly. Minnesota’s main problem this year has been an inability to win on the road, where it’s 5-13, but the Twins are 10-6 at the Metrodome.
Minnesota, however, is just 4-3 in its last seven home games.
Santana (3-3, 3.69 ERA) has won three straight starts, all of those victories coming after a 7-1 loss to Chicago on April 21.
Santana didn’t get much help in that game, allowing only two runs in seven innings, but the Twins have given him better run support since then. Minnesota has scored 16 runs in the left-hander’s last three starts, and Santana took advantage Sunday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a 4-2 victory over Detroit.
He was pulled after seven innings, allowing two runs and four hits with 11 strikeouts. Santana has struck out 30 in 22 innings during his three-start win streak.
Though he lost his only outing against the White Sox this season, he has held them to two runs or fewer in nine straight starts against them. He is 7-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 games, including 14 starts, against Chicago.
Twins center fielder Torii Hunter is batting .517 (15-for-29) during an eight-game hitting streak.