For a Chicago White Sox club looking to put 2007 in the past, winning at home would help do just that.
The White Sox will try for their fifth straight victory overall when they open both a three-game series and their 2008 home schedule against the Minnesota Twins on Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago (4-2) finished 72-90 in a tumultuous 2007 season. Although the White Sox played better at home than on the road, they still went 38-43 on the South Side for their first losing record there since 1999.
They now return for an eight-game homestand riding a four-game winning streak - their longest since a five-game run from Aug. 10-14, 2006.
“It’s a great feeling going to Chicago with the momentum and enthusiasm we have,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told the team’s official Web site. “I think the fans should be happy because we have a better club than people think.”
Chicago rolled to a 13-2 victory over Detroit on Sunday, sweeping the three-game set and keeping the AL Central Tigers winless.
Slugger Paul Konerko, though, continues to struggle. He went 1-for-4 Sunday and is batting just .200 (4-for-20) this season. He’ll look to turn things around versus a Minnesota (3-4) pitching staff against which he hit five homers last season.
Chicago starter Javier Vazquez (0-1, 7.20 ERA) also had success against the Twins in 2007, going 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA in five starts.
The right-hander looks to bounce back from a rough first outing of the season. Pitching at Cleveland last Wednesday, he struck out six batters in five innings, but gave up four runs and five hits to get charged with a 7-2 loss.
Minnesota, which is opening an eight-game road trip, will look for improved offensive production after being held to three runs or fewer four times in its first seven games. The Twins fell 3-1 at home to Kansas City on Sunday, when they went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
“We have to score more runs,” said rookie infielder Matt Tolbert, who went 2-for-4 to raise his season average to .462. “We’re playing hard, having good at-bats. It’s just we have to score more than one run to win.”
Rookie Nick Blackburn (0-1, 1.29) could have used more run support in his first major league start. Pitching against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, he allowed one run and five hits in seven innings but wound up on the losing end of a 1-0 score.
Blackburn, who made six relief appearances last season, has never pitched at U.S. Cellular Field. In his lone outing against the White Sox last Sept. 21, he allowed one hit over two scoreless innings.
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau went 2-for-4 with a home run for the second straight game on Sunday, and will look to continue his success against Vazquez. He has batted .382 (13-for-34) with six homers and 12 RBIs in their previous matchups.
These teams split their 18-game series in 2007.