Chicago (64-67) at Minnesota (65-65)

Fair Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 65° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Mon Aug 31, 2009
  • TV: CSN, FSNO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Minnesota Twins have already surged past the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central, but they’re hoping a visit from manager Ozzie Guillen’s crumbling club can help them vault further up the standings.

The White Sox will continue what has already been a dismal road trip with their final series at the Metrodome, where they’re 2-13 over the last two seasons entering Monday night’s opener.

An eighth-inning comeback gave the Twins (65-65) a 5-3 win over Texas on Sunday and a series victory over the Rangers, pulling Minnesota within 4 1/2 games of first-place Detroit in the Central.

After a lackluster start to the season’s second half, the Twins have won 9 of 12 overall. They’ve only outscored opponents by one run over that span, winning six one-run games before Sunday’s victory in which closer Joe Nathan(notes) stranded the tying runs in scoring position.

“We kind of knick-knacked them a little bit,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “A lot of good things happened.”

Minnesota starters, who had a 6.26 ERA between the All-Star break and Wednesday, turned in three straight quality outings against the Rangers - a streak Nick Blackburn(notes) will try to continue Monday.

The pitching of Blackburn (8-9, 4.29 ERA) has been anything but quality lately. He hasn’t won since beating the White Sox on July 10, going 0-5 with an 8.22 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break.

He gave up four runs and nine hits Wednesday in a 5-1 loss to Baltimore.

“I’m getting tired of it,” Blackburn said. “It’s very frustrating to come to the field every single time and continue to do this stuff. I’m trying to battle my way out of it, and I’m working just as hard as I was earlier in the season. I’m just trying to fight through it.”

The White Sox (64-67) could say the same about their entire team, which has dropped seven of eight overall, going 1-6 against Boston and the New York Yankees to begin a 10-game trip.

Chicago was outscored 23-5 in a three-game sweep in the Bronx, prompting some colorful comments from Guillen.

“Well, we came to New York and visited the new Yankee Stadium. It is a very nice ballpark, and the hotel we stayed at was also very nice,” Guillen said. “That’s all I have to say about these last three days.”

The manager said the series at Minnesota, which will start with Gavin Floyd(notes) on the mound for Chicago, could make or break his team’s season.

“I think the next three games, we’re in or we are out,” Guillen said. “We have to win the series out there, there’s no doubt.”

Floyd (10-8, 3.95) may be his team’s best chance for a victory, as he’s 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break. Three of his last four road outings have been quality starts, and he tossed six strong innings at Fenway Park on Wednesday, allowing two runs in Chicago’s 3-2 loss.

The right-hander yielded five runs in 7 2-3 innings of an 8-7 win at the Metrodome on July 11, but that was Chicago’s only victory in six games in Minneapolis this year.

White Sox pitchers probably won’t be sad to see the Twins move to a new ballpark next year. They have a 5.89 ERA in the dome since the start of 2008, even though Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer(notes) is batting .211 without a home run in those games.

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Starting Pitchers

G. Floyd Cle vs. N. Blackburn Min
11-11 Record 11-11
4.06 ERA 4.03
163 K 98
59 BB 41
1.23 WHIP 1.37

Scoreboard

Monday, Aug 31