After falling short of the postseason last year, the Minnesota Twins are doing their best to make it this season.
The Twins (78-73), who lost a one-game playoff to the White Sox last season, have won eight of nine and are 2 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central. The frontrunners open a four-game series Monday at Comerica Park.
Chicago (73-79), meanwhile, is all but out of postseason contention after losing three in a row and six of seven.
Cuddyer, who was a triple shy of the cycle, hit his career-high 29th homer while Orlando Cabrera(notes) added a two-run shot for the Twins, who’ve scored 15 runs in the set and are on the verge of their first series sweep at U.S. Cellular Field since July 24-26, 2006.
Cuddyer is batting .378 with five homers and 15 RBIs in his last nine games and has six home runs and 13 RBIs against Chicago this season.
While Cuddyer hopes to stay hot, Duensing (4-1, 3.22 ERA) looks to remain perfect since joining the Twins’ rotation full time last month.
The left-hander, who’s 4-0 with a 1.45 ERA in his last six starts, allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-0 win over Detroit on Friday.
“He pounded the strike zone,” Cuddyer said of Duensing, who’s not allowed a run over his last 13 1-3 innings. “That was huge, and hopefully he can continue to be huge for us.”
Duensing has a 1.50 ERA, but has not received a decision in two starts versus the White Sox.
The left-hander has lost his last two starts after giving up five runs in six innings of an 11-0 loss to Kansas City on Friday. Buehrle is 1-6 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 starts since throwing a perfect game against Tampa Bay on July 23.
“I don’t know if I was trying too hard, but (Friday) was probably the best I felt since the ninth inning of that perfect game,” said Buehrle, who surpassed the 200-inning mark for the ninth straight season.
Buehrle is 23-15 with a 3.94 ERA in 40 starts against the Twins—2-2 with a 5.28 ERA in five this season.
The veteran first baseman is batting .364 with two home runs in his last nine games, and has homered in two of his last three versus Minnesota.