Chicago (72-48) looks to avenge a sweep last month by Minnesota (70-50) when the AL Central rivals start a three-game weekend series at the Metrodome on Friday.
The White Sox begin play with a two-game lead in the wild card over the Twins, but Minnesota—owners of the best home record in the majors at 42-19— could overtake Chicago with another sweep.
“It’s a huge series. We all know that,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You can’t escape it. You can’t hide from it. They’re a great team—they’ve won the division and the World Series. So we’re the ones who are going to have to come out and compete.”
The teams will meet six more times after this series, including the final three games of the regular season in Minneapolis.
Minnesota, which had lost five of the first seven meetings with the White Sox this year, hit seven homers while winning all three games at U.S. Cellular Field from July 24-26.
“We knew, eventually, if we were to keep winning, we’d catch whoever was in front of us,” Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer said after a 7-4 win in that series finale.
After ending a six-week winless slide in his last start, Freddy Garcia (11-7, 4.78 ERA) will try to build off that for Chicago. In a 7-3 win over AL Central-leading Detroit on Sunday to complete a series sweep, Garcia pitched seven innings and allowed three runs, eight hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter.
It was Garcia’s first win in seven starts since defeating Pittsburgh on June 28.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA this season against the Twins, winning at home and on the road. Overall, he has won his last three starts against the Twins, and is 8-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 16 career starts against them.
Bonser is 2-2 with a 4.71 ERA in four home starts this season, but has lost his last two outings at the Metrodome and failed to pitch into the sixth inning both times.
In a 4-0 loss to Toronto on Sunday, Bonser gave up three runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. After the game, Gardenhire said Bonser would remain in the starting rotation.
“It feels good,” Bonser said. “But at the same time, I’ve just got to go out there in my next start and do the same thing I did tonight: Put up zeros.”
The right-hander is making his first career start against the White Sox.
Chicago salvaged a four-game split with lowly Kansas City after holding off the Royals 5-4 on Thursday. Mark Buehrle scattered six hits over six innings for his 10th win and Pablo Ozuna and Jermaine Dye homered.
“In the ninth you are wondering if they tie the game will it cost Buehrle the win,” said first baseman Paul Konerko, who drove in two runs. “You want to win, but you really wanted to get him that win.”
Chicago finished its 11-game homestand with a 7-4 record. The White Sox are 7-8 on the road since the All-Star break.
Minnesota’s three-game winning streak ended with a 3-2 loss to Cleveland on Thursday. Justin Morneau hit his team-leading 31st homer and Joe Mauer added an RBI single for the Twins, who have lost six of their past nine at the Metrodome.