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Preview: Twins (73-67) at White Sox (66-73)
Venue: U.S. Cellular Field
Date: September 12, 2015 7:10 PM EDT
Trying to keep the pressure on in the playoff race, the Minnesota Twins appear to be giving the ball to the right pitcher as their series continues at U.S. Cellular Field.
Tommy Milone can earn a fourth straight victory against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night and help the Twins move closer to a wild-card spot with their 15th win in 21 games.
Minnesota (73-67) seemed to be fading from the postseason chase during a 9-21 stretch that left it four games back of the AL’s second wild-card spot on Aug. 19.
After putting up a 5.68 ERA over that span, the Twins have turned things around by posting a 3.61 mark while winning 14 of 20 to get back within one game of Texas.
They’ll try to continue that push following Friday’s 6-2 victory in the opener of this three-game series. Minnesota has a 2.59 ERA in winning 11 of the past 14 against the White Sox (66-73).
Ervin Santana went seven strong innings and Trevor Plouffe went 3 for 5 with two home runs. Plouffe, who had batted .150 over his previous 13 games, is hitting .355 in his last 28 versus Chicago.
“I’m just trying to have good at-bats,” he said. “I was just able to hit a few balls out of the park.”
Milone has allowed two runs over 20 2-3 innings to win each of his three starts in the season series. He’s also 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA in seven meetings dating to his time with Oakland.
Since returning from a sprained elbow Aug. 16, Milone (8-4, 3.54 ERA) is 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts and also had a save at Baltimore on Aug. 23. He went seven innings in a second straight start Monday, giving up two runs in a 6-2 win at Kansas City.
“I’m feeling pretty strong right now, and I’m hoping to keep it up,” he told MLB’s official website.
Adam Eaton is 0 for 7 versus the left-hander in 2015, while Melky Cabrera is 0 for 8 and Gordon Beckham 1 for 8. Tyler Flowers and Alexei Ramirez are a combined 4 for 31 lifetime against him.
Chicago had batted .292 with 11 homers while averaging 6.3 runs during a 5-2 stretch before totaling just six hits in the opener. Eaton provided all the scoring with his 13th home run.
After posting a 4.97 ERA over a five-start stretch, Jose Quintana (8-10, 3.60) got back on track last Saturday when he scattered seven hits over seven scoreless innings in a 6-1 win at Kansas City. He’ll try to help the White Sox avoid their third straight loss and 10th in 15 home games.
“He just competes,” Beckham said. “That’s what you want out there as a pitcher.”
Quintana will make his third start versus Minnesota this season. He had been 3-1 with a 1.81 ERA over his previous seven meetings before giving up seven runs over six innings in an 8-1 loss May 24.
Brian Dozier hit one of his two home runs in that contest off Quintana, but he’s hitting just .194 with two longballs in 31 career at-bats. Eduardo Escobar, who hit his 10th homer Friday, has gone 1 for 15 with five strikeouts in the matchup.