The Chicago White Sox are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot. Their recent efforts, though, seem to indicate they’re already looking ahead to 2012.
Looking to stop a four-game skid in which the team has been simply miserable, the White Sox play a day-night doubleheader against the host Minnesota Twins on Monday.
The White Sox are coming off an 18-2 pounding at Detroit on Sunday night that completed a three-game sweep. Chicago is 8 1/2 games behind the AL Central-leading Tigers with 25 to play, including three head-to-head matchups.
“We needed to come here and make a statement. We had to win two of three, if not sweep them, and that’s the furthest thing from what actually happened,” White Sox starter Mark Buehrle(notes) said after giving up eight runs in 3 1-3 innings Sunday. “We’re not mathematically eliminated, but a smart man isn’t going to like our chances right now.
“We’re not going to give up, but we’re in big trouble.”
Over the last four games, the White Sox (68-69) have been outscored 42-17 with their starting pitchers posting a 12.50 ERA and failing to get past the fifth inning in any of those contests. The bullpen hasn’t been much better, sporting a 9.19 ERA.
Chicago has lost 24 of its last 33 games in Minneapolis even after a three-game sweep last month, its first in the Twin Cities since 2004.
The Twins (58-81) wrapped up a 2-4 road trip with Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Barring a 23-game winning streak to conclude the season, the two-time defending AL Central champions will finish with their second losing record in 10 years under manager Ron Gardenhire.
“We’re not done yet, so I’m not going to really sit back and reflect until the end of the season,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve tried to look at some of the good things, and there hasn’t been a lot of them. Nothing has worked out too well. I mean, you make plans coming out of spring training - kind of a template, as they say - and we threw the template away a long time ago.”
Catcher Joe Mauer(notes) hit his second homer in an injury-shortened season for Minnesota, which has dropped 15 of its last 18 at home. Mauer is hitting .306 in 40 games at Target Field, but only 2 for 12 with one RBI there this season against Chicago.
The right-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list last month after being hit above the right eye by a line drive off the bat of Cleveland’s Kosuke Fukudome(notes). Humber allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings in a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Charlotte last Tuesday.
Humber was 0-4 with a 7.16 ERA in his last six starts before getting hurt, a skid that began July 7 against the Twins. Minnesota reached him for season highs of six runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings of the 6-2 loss.
Humber has never pitched in Minnesota.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts versus the White Sox this year, both in Chicago. Swarzak was tagged for eight runs - six earned - in 4 1-3 innings of last Tuesday’s 8-6 loss at U.S. Cellular Field.
Zach Stewart(notes) (1-3, 5.48), who pitched opposite Swarzak last week, will start the nightcap for Chicago. The right-hander failed to get a decision Tuesday after being charged with six runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Acquired in a trade from Toronto on July 27, Stewart defeated the Twins in his White Sox debut Aug. 6, allowing one run in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-1 win.
Minnesota will send out rookie Scott Diamond(notes) (1-2, 4.82) to start the second game. The left-hander earned his first big-league win Wednesday, yielding three runs and three hits in 6 1-3 innings of the Twins’ 7-6 victory over Chicago.
Diamond has surrendered nine runs and 17 hits in 12 2-3 innings en route to a pair of home losses.