The White Sox begin a seven-game trip hoping to avoid a season-worst-tying seventh consecutive loss overall and an 11th defeat in 12 meetings with the Twins as the teams play the first of three Friday night.
Chicago (52-58), which dropped seven in a row April 13-20, finds itself on the verge of matching that disappointing stretch after suffering a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees, capped by a 7-2 loss Thursday.
Manager Ozzie Guillen’s club has been outscored 49-16 during its losing streak, which started with back-to-back losses to Boston over the weekend.
“We just got killed for four games,” said captain Paul Konerko(notes), who went 2 for 3 at DH on Thursday in his first game back after missing three with a bruised left calf. “Going back to the Boston series, the last two were tough, too.”
While the White Sox didn’t measure up against the AL’s top two teams, they haven’t experienced much success against the fourth-place Twins, either. Chicago’s lost seven of eight to Minnesota this season and 29 of 36 dating to July 12, 2009.
Following a 4-6 road trip, the Twins (51-60) return home eight games behind AL Central-leading Detroit and 1 1/2 back of third-place Chicago. One night after matching its largest run total of the season during an 11-4 win against the Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota capped its trek with a 7-1 loss Thursday.
The Twins could be in for another difficult night at the plate against Mark Buehrle(notes) (8-5, 3.21 ERA), who yielded two runs and five hits in six innings of Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Boston - extending his MLB-leading run of allowing three runs or fewer to 16 consecutive starts.
He’s surrendered a combined six runs in his last four starts at Minnesota, although he’s just 1-2 in those outings. The left-hander has allowed one earned run in two outings spanning 15 innings versus the Twins this year, but he’s 0-1.
Jim Thome(notes) has also struggled against Buehrle, going 5 for 25 with 13 strikeouts and two homers. The slugging DH homered Thursday, extending his hitting streak to nine games and pulling within two home runs of becoming the eighth player to reach 600.
“When you look at those guys in that club, it would be very special, obviously. It would be magical,” said Thome, who hit No. 500 while with the White Sox on Sept. 16, 2007. “I know it’s taken a long time to get though this journey to this point.”
Minnesota gives the ball to Nick Blackburn(notes) (7-8, 4.49), who looks to bounce back from yet another ugly performance. The right-hander allowed seven runs - six earned - and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings of Saturday’s 8-3 loss at Oakland, falling to 1-3 with an 8.37 ERA over his last seven outings.
“Blackie really labored as you saw,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Too many talks at the mound, the whole package. A lot of not connecting out there. He is going through a little bit of a scuffle period.”
Despite allowing five runs and 10 hits in five innings of an 8-5 win at U.S. Cellular Field on July 8, Blackburn is 7-1 with a 3.13 ERA over his last nine starts against the White Sox.