After a weekend sweep they could ill afford, the Chicago White Sox are running out of chances to make up ground on the AL Central leaders.
At least they’ve finally figured out a way to beat the last-place Minnesota Twins.
After dominant starting pitching propelled the White Sox to a doubleheader sweep of the Twins on Labor Day, they’ll look to Jake Peavy(notes) - the only Chicago starter to lose to Minnesota in the season’s second half - to continue that trend Tuesday night at Target Field.
“Big trouble” was the phrase White Sox starter Mark Buehrle(notes) used to describe his team’s chances to catch Detroit after Chicago (70-69) was swept out of Comerica Park over the weekend, increasing its division deficit from 5 1/2 games to 8 1/2.
The White Sox managed to make up ground Monday even as the Tigers won their series opener against Cleveland. Philip Humber(notes) tossed seven scoreless innings in a 2-1 win to open a day-night doubleheader with the Twins (58-83), then rookie Zach Stewart(notes) was perfect through seven before eventually settling for a one-hitter in a 4-0 victory in the nightcap.
“After the last three days we have, and a fairly short night, to come back here and do it, hopefully those guys get some momentum going,” manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The White Sox are finally generating momentum against a Minnesota club that spent two years tormenting them. The Twins won 30 of 38 meetings with Chicago from July 10, 2009-July 10, 2011, but the White Sox have won seven of eight since the All-Star break, outscoring Minnesota 41-18.
The lone loss came last Wednesday, courtesy of one bad inning from Peavy (6-7, 5.21 ERA). The right-hander gave up six first-inning runs - including a pair of two-run homers - before making it through the fifth, but Chicago’s comeback fell short in a 7-6 defeat at U.S. Cellular Field.
Peavy, who gave up four homers over 88 1-3 innings in his first 15 outings, has now surrendered six over 17 innings in his past three while posting a 7.94 ERA.
“It’s the toughest part of my career just because I’m not feeling how I always felt,” Peavy told the White Sox’s official website. “We go out there on some days and have some pretty good stuff. Some days, you don’t have good enough stuff.”
His lone career start at Target Field went much better than Wednesday’s loss. Peavy held the Twins to three hits over eight innings of a 7-0 victory Aug. 7.
The Twins will give Liam Hendriks(notes) his first major league start. The Perth, Australia, native is one of Minnesota’s top prospects and went 12-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 25 games between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester in 2011.
Though he only finished with a 4.56 ERA in Triple-A, he posted a 1.56 mark over his last four minor-league starts. Hendriks doesn’t possess overpowering stuff, but he issued only three walks in 49 1-3 innings with Rochester.
“Hopefully, he won’t be overwhelmed,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ official website. “There’s no way of telling until you go out there and throw the ball.
“He’s a guy who locates. His fastball is somewhere around 88-89 mph consistently, so if he tries to throw it 91-92, then he’ll be in trouble. So he needs to stay with what got him here.”
Hendriks might not be the only one making his debut. Minnesota is also expected to call up outfielder Joe Benson(notes), the club’s 2010 minor league player of the year, and first base prospect Chris Parmelee(notes) from New Britain.