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Preview: Twins (73-67) at White Sox (66-73)
Venue: U.S. Cellular Field
Date: September 13, 2015 2:10 PM EDT
Facing the Chicago White Sox seemed to offer a good chance for the Minnesota Twins to gain at least a share of the AL’s second wild-card spot.
They already let one opportunity get away.
The Twins may get another chance to move into a postseason spot Sunday as they try to conclude this three-game series with the White Sox on a positive note.
Minnesota (73-68) rallied to win 6-2 in the opener of this set in Chicago (67-73) on Friday. However, the Twins followed that by surrendering a seven-run fourth inning while mustering five hits in an 8-2 loss Saturday. They remained one game back of Texas – which lost to Oakland – in the wild-card chase.
“We didn’t do a lot of things very well,” manager Paul Molitor said. “We didn’t run the bases very well. We didn’t defend very well. We didn’t pitch particularly well. (We) just kind of have to accept that.”
Molitor will hand the ball to Kyle Gibson (9-10, 3.87 ERA), who is 1-4 with a 5.86 ERA over his last 10 starts. The right-hander, though, bounced back from a difficult start Tuesday, surrendering four runs in the first inning before going the distance for the first time in a 4-2 loss at Kansas City.
“You can lose it in the first, but you can’t win it in the first. Those are situations that kind of speed up on you,” Gibson said. “I’m trying not to get too emotionally up in what happened, just take it one batter at a time and move on.”
Gibson is 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA in five career starts against the White Sox. He allowed one run with eight strikeouts in eight innings of an 8-1 win in his most recent visit to the South Side on May 24.
The White Sox are on their way to a third straight losing season under manager Robin Ventura, though Chris Sale (12-8, 3.31) continues to be a rare bright spot.
The left-hander’s career-high 247 strikeouts lead the AL and are 22 shy of the franchise record set by Ed Walsh in 1908. While Sale is well short of that for now, seven strikeouts would tie him for fourth on the team’s single-season list with Walsh’s total from 1912. The Hall of Famer is also third with 255 in 1911.
Sale’s 12.04 strikeouts per nine innings, however, is the highest in team history.
He fanned eight Monday but was more concerned with allowing three solo homers in seven innings of a 3-2 loss to Cleveland.
“It stinks giving up homers,” Sale said. “Usually solo shots don’t hurt you, but when you give up damn near a handful of them, it’s tough.”
He’s 0-3 with a 7.50 ERA with 34 strikeouts and five walks in 24 innings over his last four starts against the Twins.
Sale has struggled with Brian Dozier and Kurt Suzuki.
Dozier has been all or nothing in the matchup, going 11 for 36 with three homers, four doubles, 11 RBIs and 10 strikeouts. He’s plated seven runs while going 6 for 17 with a homer and three doubles off Sale this year.
Suzuki, meanwhile, is 8 for 21 with two doubles and six RBIs against the four-time All-Star.