The Chicago White Sox know how ever-changing the AL Central standings are, especially after making up 9 1/2 games since early June.
Freddy Garcia(notes) will try to pad the White Sox’s lead atop the division as he looks to win his seventh straight decision in the finale of Chicago’s four-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
After winning the opener of this set against the Twins, the White Sox (50-40) have dropped consecutive games for the second time since June 6. Chicago, which has still won 26 of 33, is 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Detroit and 2 1/2 in front of third-place Minnesota (48-33) after a 3-2 loss to the Twins on Saturday.
“You just have to hang in there and not get too high or low,” Paul Konerko(notes) told the White Sox’s official website. “Any time you play a four-game set with a team on the road, you want to win the series but you definitely want to come away with the split. We can still do that tomorrow. It’s just going to be a lot of momentum.”
Konerko accounted for Chicago’s offense with an RBI single and solo homer, but he struck out in the ninth with the tying run on third.
The White Sox haven’t dropped three in a row since a four-game slide April 15-18, but they may have the advantage given Garcia’s recent form. The White Sox have won his last eight starts during the right-hander’s current winning streak.
Garcia (9-3, 4.36 ERA) gave up one unearned run in six innings of a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels on July 7 for his first victory since June 20.
“Freddy keeps on throwing those gems for us,” Juan Pierre(notes) said. “I know from the other end and facing a guy like that, he just frustrates … The guy knows how to pitch, he knows what he is doing.”
Garcia has split two against the Twins this season, winning at Target Field on May 11 after giving up two runs in seven innings of a 5-2 win.
However, he faces a Minnesota team going for its first three-game winning streak since a five-game run May 27-31. Delmon Young(notes) had his third multihit game in his last four Saturday, raising his batting average to .383 this month.
The right-hander has lost his last two starts is 1-6 with a 10.00 ERA in his last eight trips to the mound. He gave up seven runs in four innings of a 7-4 loss to Detroit last Saturday.
Blackburn gave up four home runs in the loss and has allowed 11 in those eight starts.
“I’m sick of this,” he said. “Every time I go out there, I’m not getting the job done.”
Blackburn allowed five runs and gave up three home runs against the White Sox on April 11, ending a four-game winning streak against them.