After Minnesota Takes Two of Three, What’s Next for White Sox, Twins?

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The Minnesota Twins stretched their lead in the AL Central to five games Wednesday, before the Chicago White Sox struck back Thursday with an 11-0 mauling of Minnesota.  

What can be taken from this series for both teams?  Let’s just say it’s not hard to find positives for either of the teams vying for the AL Central crown.

MINNESOTA TWINS:  Saying this series was a roller coaster would be putting it mildly for Minnesota.
After blowing a ninth inning lead and then coming back with the first walk off hit in Target Field history in game one of the series, they battled the White Sox in game two and almost ended up giving another lead away in the last frame.

When the Sox finally did get the best of the Twins, it was with authority and conviction, an 11-0 drubbing is not how you want to end a series with your most bitter rival.  Ask around the clubhouse and I’m sure the guys would tell you it doesn’t feel like they won the series after that bad taste being left in their mouths.

But the Twins have to be pretty happy with taking two considering they could’ve very easily been swept.  Aside from the last game of the series, the offense continued to roll and Joe Mauer is back to his usual ways, hitting .427 since the All-Star break.

Although the series finale was ugly, the Twins are 12-5 in August and are now 21-6 in their last 27 meetings with the White Sox.  They still lead the majors in batting average and are fifth in runs, and have actually raised their ranking in those categories without Justin Morneau, whose future this season remains cloudy.

On the pitching side, there is a little more reason to worry than on the offensive side of the ball.

Francisco Liriano, who hadn’t given up a home run in 90+ innings, finally had that streak broken by Andruw Jones Wednesday, and after three straight scoreless starts, his last three haven’t been pretty (15 1/3 IP, 10 ER, 12 BB).

francisco liriano

Carl Pavano, who was putting up Cy Young type numbers coming into August, has posted a 5.33 ERA this month and gave up seven earned in the last game of the Sox series.

It seems that what people were focusing on as a problem, the 3-5 starters, are suddenly a secondary issue to the performance of the two workhorses at the top of the rotation.

As far as the bullpen goes, which has been the second best in baseball this year, coming out of this series the Twins have to be concerned about Matt Capps.

In a big series, possibly the first truly big one of his career, Capps blew his second save in seven chances with the Twins, and saw his ERA since joining the Twins rise a run and a half.
His arrival has certainly hurt Jon Rauch as well.

Since the acquisition of Capps, Rauch’ ERA is 6.00, with a 2.00 WHIP in seven appearances.  His confidence appears to be shot and he’s reportedly had at least one outburst of frustration in the clubhouse since Capps took the closer’s role.

Going forward the Twins should feel confident out of this series, with a four game lead and only one series remaining with the White Sox.  Should they continue to hit the ball like they are and Pavano and Liriano return to form over the next month, there shouldn’t be any stopping the Twins from taking this division.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX:  The White Sox made a statement in the last game of the series against the Twins that they will not go away easily.  The 11-0 trouncing they put on the Twins should go a long way towards getting their confidence back  down the stretch.

Although they did lose two of three, the Sox really should be encouraged that they easily could’ve swept the Twins.

Should Bobby Jenks have been available over the series, perhaps the outcome of game one would’ve been different, and with Matt Capps having a rough series for the Twins, the Sox almost scrounged up another comeback in game two.

Chicago hit the stuffing out of the ball over the weekend, posting 23 runs in three games, and their offensive second half appears to not just be an aberration.

Juan Pierre, Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, and Omar Vizquel are all hitting over .300 in the second half, along with the ever-present Konerko.

Considering how streaky some of those bats can be, it is encouraging to see them continuing their hot hitting, especially in clutch spots, specifically Ramirez this past series.

As far as starters are concerned this was not the most encouraging few days for Gavin Floyd and John Danks.

Floyd is having a down August in general, with his ERA now shooting over five, but the start from Danks was rather surprising considering four of his last five starts coming into Tuesday had been phenomenal.  Still, he did give the White Sox seven innings, which was impressive considering his rough first inning.

As far as Buehrle is concerned, it was just another day against the Minnesota Twins.

Although he has struggled recently, Buehrle is a 21 game winner against the Twins in his career, the most of any pitcher in the majors.  No one should be surprised he brought his A game against Minnesota.

Floyd has struggled his last two starts, but the Sox should be happy with their other two pitching studs, and if they can make a run, those three would be very formidable in the playoffs.

Looking ahead the Sox should feel good about this series and that they could salvage a game out of it, because a six game hole would be hard to overcome over the last month and a half.

They have the Red Sox and Yankees left, a much harder road than the Twins face, so they will have to play their best baseball in order to make up this four game deficit.

It will be an uphill battle, but if one man can motivate his squad to do it, Ozzie Guillen would be that guy.

-Mike Gallagher

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    Wow you made me almost feel like we had a chance again. almost

  2. go twins!

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