A pair of 13-game winners will take the mound in the rubber game of the three-game between the Chicago White Sox and the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins on Wednesday afternoon in Minneapolis.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito (13-6, 3.41 ERA), who has struck out a total of 24 batters in his past two starts, will start for the White Sox. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (13-5, 3.50), who has a 1.96 ERA in his last four starts and is 2-2 with a 2.95 ERA in seven career starts against Chicago, will start for Minnesota.
Giolito had 11 strikeouts in six innings while allowing two runs on six hits in a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night in Anaheim, Calif. That came after a 13-strikeout performance five days earlier in a 2-0 loss to the Oakland A's.
Giolito is 3-4 with a 5.79 ERA in eight career starts against Minnesota and is 1-1 vs. the Twins this season. However, he gave up seven hits and seven runs in his last start vs. Minnesota on July 25 in a 10-3 loss in Chicago, allowing four home runs, including three to Nelson Cruz.
The 39-year-old Cruz has shown no signs of slowing down, bashing 15 home runs in his past 20 games and 17 homers since the All-Star break. And despite missing 10 days on the injured list after rupturing a tendon in his left wrist, Cruz is 6-for-10 with a homer, three doubles and four RBIs since returning for the first two games of the series.
Cruz went 4-for-5 with his 33rd homer and the first three-double game of his career on Tuesday night in Minnesota's 14-4 victory over the White Sox, becoming the sixth player in team history to have four extra-base hits in a game.
"He's good at what he does," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He's coming back from an injury. This is something that 12 days ago we didn't know what was going to happen now. We're not even two weeks out and he doesn't just look fine, he looks fantastic."
Minnesota's Max Kepler hit his team-leading 34th homer and drove in three runs in the win to give him 84 RBIs. His previous career highs were 20 home runs and 69 RBIs.
"I don't try to think about it," Kepler said of his home run total. "I'm trying to stay in the present, but I'm living a dream right now. It's all surreal. As a kid from (Berlin) Germany, I never really thought any of this would be possible."
Kepler also made some highlight videos in another unusual way. He was leading off first when a squirrel raced on the field beyond the first base line in the fifth inning, and it darted through his legs and into the White Sox dugout.
"I heard the crowd get loud for some reason," Kepler said. "The squirrel popped into my head because I saw him earlier crawling on the wall in right before the game started. But I couldn't take my eyes off the pitcher. The next thing I know, he's coming through my legs."
--Field Level Media