The Minnesota Twins have been in this position nine previous times in the past five weeks, but have failed to capitalize on each occasion. They hope this time is different.
The Twins once again look to take over first place in the division for the first time in 1 1/2 months when they continue their four-game series against the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
After defeating the White Sox 7-0 in Monday’s series opener, Minnesota (59-47) rallied to win 6-5 on Tuesday and pull within a half-game of Chicago (59-46).
“We’ll let you do that, talk about who’s two back and who’s up on who, because with this many games left you just have to go out there and try to win every game,” White Sox catcher Toby Hall said.
On Tuesday, the Twins erased a 4-0 deficit with a five-run fifth inning. Justin Morneau’s bases-clearing double capped the rally, and the two-time All-Star is hitting .389 (7-for-18) with two home runs and nine RBIs in his last five games.
“I enjoy being up there in that situation,” Morneau said. “To be in that spot, the more I get up there, the more comfortable I feel.”
This is the 10th time since June 25 the Twins have moved within a game of first with a chance to take at least a share of the division lead, but each of the previous nine times they’ve remained in second place.
Minnesota hasn’t been in first place since May 13, while the White Sox have been atop the AL Central every day since May 17.
The Twins have put a rough little stretch behind them, winning four in a row following a five-game skid. The White Sox, meanwhile, have dropped three straight after winning their previous four.
Minnesota has won all four of its meetings against Chicago at the Metrodome this season, and is major league-best 17-3 at home since June 17. The Twins have also won 10 of Livan Hernandez’s 12 starts at the Metrodome this season, with the right-hander going 8-1 with a 3.91 ERA in those outings.
Hernandez (10-7, 5.31 ERA), who takes the mound Wednesday, has made two starts against Chicago this season—both at U.S. Cellular Field. He threw a nine-hitter in a 13-1 victory over the White Sox on May 7, but exactly one month later, he was tagged for seven runs and eight hits in four innings of an 11-2 loss.
Hernandez has alternated wins and losses in his last six starts, yielding eight runs over 20 innings in the three wins, but 16 runs in 19 1-3 innings in the losses. On Friday, he gave up five runs—four in the first inning—and 12 hits in eight innings of a 5-4 loss at Cleveland.
The White Sox have scored nine runs during their three-game skid after scoring 33 runs in their previous four.
Slugger Jermaine Dye is 1-for-7 in the first two games of this series after batting .450 (9-for-20) with three home runs and seven RBIs in his previous five games. He is 1-for-15 (.067) at the Metrodome this season.
Gavin Floyd (10-6, 3.57) takes the hill for the White Sox as he looks to break out of his little slump.
After pitching 7 1-3 scoreless innings in a win over Oakland on July 5, Floyd is 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA in his last three starts. On Friday, the right-hander gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings of Chicago’s 6-5 win at Detroit.
Floyd gave up three runs in six innings of a 3-1 loss at Minnesota on April 29, but has yielded only three runs in 15 1-3 innings in winning his last two starts against the Twins. He has lost each of his two career starts at the Metrodome.