After Justin Morneau helped break the team out of a frustrating offensive slump, the Minnesota Twins look to keep the momentum Wednesday as they continue their three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at the Metrodome.
Morneau homered twice Tuesday, including a three-run shot in the 10th inning to lift the Twins (17-15) to a 7-4 win in the series opener. Minnesota had managed only 12 runs during a 1-4 stretch heading into this series.
“Hopefully it takes all the pressure off everybody,” Morneau said. “It’s been a bit of a struggle for a while. Maybe this will turn it around.”
The Twins rank last in the AL with 18 homers, and Morneau’s solo shot in the second inning ended a string of 189 plate appearances without a home run for Minnesota hitters.
Mauer, last season’s AL batting champion, is on the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps. Left fielder Rondell White is also on the DL with a right calf tear. Right fielder Michael Cuddyer returned Tuesday after missing five games with a bruised back and went 1-for-5.
Torii Hunter extended his hitting streak to 22 games with an eighth-inning RBI single. The Twins center fielder is hitting .378 with five homers and 19 RBIs during the run.
The White Sox (14-15) have dropped six of eight as they also endure problems with their offense and injuries. They are hitting a major league-worst .223, and are playing without slugger Jim Thome (ribs) and leadoff batter Scott Podsednik (groin).
Joe Crede homered and drove in two runs Tuesday, but Chicago squandered a three-run, eighth-inning lead.
“A game like that we have to win,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Especially with the bullpen we have. When you’ve got a lead like that, the way we throw the ball out of the bullpen, that’s a game you should have. No question about it. But they never give up.”
Chicago will try to give rookie starter John Danks (0-4, 5.02 ERA) some offensive support on Wednesday. The 22-year-old left-hander allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings Wednesday at Seattle, but was charged with the 3-2 loss to remain winless through five major league starts.
The two runs of support matched the total amount the White Sox had given Danks in his first four outings.
Danks made his major league debut against the Twins on April 8, allowing three runs in six innings of a 3-1 home defeat.
Minnesota will counter with Ramon Ortiz (3-2, 3.23), who allowed five runs in four innings of Thursday’s 6-4 loss at Tampa Bay in the shortest outing by a Twins starter this season. Ortiz had not surrendered more than three runs in any of his previous five starts, lasting at least six innings in each.
In eight career appearances, including five starts, against the White Sox, Ortiz is 2-3 with a 7.44 ERA - his worst ERA against any AL team. He is also 0-3 in his last five starts against them.