At one point last month, the Minnesota Twins were owners of the worst record in the majors and trailed by 16 1/2 games in the AL Central.
Thanks to a stunning turnaround, the Twins now have a chance to contend for a third straight division title after the All-Star break and will try to help themselves Sunday by adding to their dominance over the Chicago White Sox.
Minnesota dropped to 17-37 following a 4-2 loss in Detroit on June 1, but has since won 23 of 34 and is threatening to overtake Chicago in the standings. The Twins (40-48) aided that cause by rallying for a ninth straight win over the White Sox on Friday but had that streak snapped with a 4-3 defeat the following day.
Chicago (44-47) scored in each of the final two innings with Alexei Ramirez’s(notes) single driving home the game-winning run. Ramirez also had a solo home run while helping the White Sox end a four-game skid.
“You hear about (the struggles against the Twins) and you read about it. It starts to fester in there and then you get to a point where you almost try too hard because you want to end it and then it just snowballs,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski(notes) said. “We finally rallied and found a way in the last couple innings, which is nice.”
The Twins, who had claimed the first six matchups this season, are 28-7 in the past 35 meetings with their AL Central rivals and have won eight of 11 overall.
Anthony Swarzak(notes) (1-2, 3.71 ERA) will try to help Minnesota win a fourth straight series while filling in for Scott Baker(notes), who has a strained right flexor muscle. Swarzak threw a pair of scoreless innings against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, allowing one hit and one walk.
“We had him basically going for (31 pitches), so he’ll be fine,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the team’s official website.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts this season, winning the previous one in Kansas City on June 2, and will face the White Sox for the first time.
The veteran right-hander has given up at least four runs in each of his past two starts and allowed five over six innings while taking the loss in a 5-3 defeat to Kansas City on Tuesday.
He gave up three of those runs in the second inning despite yielding just one hit during that frame.
“Second inning, no excuses,” Peavy said. “I didn’t get some close pitches. Obviously I didn’t have the command I normally have. It cost us there.”
Peavy has no record and a 2.84 ERA in two starts against the Twins and hasn’t faced them since June 24, 2008, with San Diego.