Sitting atop the AL Central has to make the Chicago White Sox feel good. Their league-worst batting average, however, has likely tempered any enthusiasm.
The White Sox look to avoid a third straight loss to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday as the teams close a two-game series at the Metrodome.
After hitting poorly in the clutch during a four-game series against Baltimore, the White Sox (14-11) went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss.
Joe Crede accounted for all of Chicago’s offense with his league-leading seventh home run.
The White Sox are a dismal 4-for-37 with runners in scoring position in the last four games, but have managed two wins, one loss and one suspended game in that span.
Last in the AL with a .241 batting average, Chicago is near the top of the league with 131 runs scored thanks to a league-best 35 home runs.
Several of the team’s best hitters are batting well below their career averages. Included in that group are Nick Swisher (.222), Orlando Cabrera (.225), Jim Thome (.216), Paul Konerko (.221) and Juan Uribe (.160).
“We’re scoring some runs, but overall our batting average isn’t where we want it to be,” Thome said. “It’s not where we hope to see it at the end of the season. It’s going to take work to get there.”
Cabrera has two of Chicago’s seven hits Tuesday, snapping an 0-for-20 skid.
“Our offense still continues to struggle, know what I mean?” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Not to take any credit from (Boof) Bonser, but we continue to struggle at the plate and we try to fight our way out. But there’s no doubt that he threw the ball well.”
Right fielder Jermaine Dye returned to Chicago’s lineup Tuesday after missing four games with a strained left groin, but went 0-for-4.
After starters Scott Baker and Livan Hernandez were each hit hard in the last two games, Bonser provided Minnesota (12-14) with an outstanding outing Tuesday. He gave up one run in seven innings, earning the first win by a Twins starter in 10 days.
“That was huge of him to go deep into the game for us,” catcher Joe Mauer said. “We haven’t been able to do that for a while.”
Jason Kubel hit a two-run homer as Minnesota won its third straight at home.
Mauer tripled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to a career high-tying 11 games. He is batting .372 (16-for-43) with five RBIs during his run.
Nick Blackburn (1-1, 3.45 ERA) takes the mound for Minnesota, looking to rebound from his worst start of the season. The right-hander was reached for five earned runs and 11 hits - both career highs - in six innings in a 6-5, 10-inning loss at Texas on Friday.
Blackburn made his second career start and first against the White Sox on April 7. He allowed two runs and seven hits over five innings in his team’s 7-4 loss.
Nick Masset (0-0, 3.75) comes out of the bullpen to make his first start in nearly a year for Chicago. The third-year right-hander, who has made five relief appearances this year, was originally scheduled to start during Saturday’s doubleheader against Baltimore.
Masset’s only career start came against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 20, 2007, when he gave up two runs and three hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 10-6 victory.
Masset has no record and a 14.46 ERA in four career appearances against the Twins.
Justin Morneau is 4-for-5 with a home run against Masset.