Minnesota Twins (43-41) @ Chicago White Sox (37-45)
The Twins head into the All-Star break with four games in three games in Chicago. This series wraps up the current road trip, on which the Twins dropped to 3-4 when they lost 3 of 4 to the Yankees in New York. After an over .500 June (15-12), the Twins have stumbled out of the gate in July, starting off 1-4. The White Sox finish their seven game homestand with this weekend’s series. The previous series the Sox split 4 games with Baltimore after a successful 6-1 road trip through Tampa and Kansas City. The Sox remain in fourth place in the AL Central, 12.5 games back of the first place Indians, and 5 games behind the third place Twins. The Sox have struggled more at home than on the road, posting a 17-23 record in The Cell where they haven’t won a series since May 23 (they have split two series in that span). Meanwhile the Twins remain right around .500 on the road, with a record of 21-21.
While the Sox have certainly fallen short of their expectations this season, if they just had a little more grit they would probably be just fine, right? Grit or no grit, at least their manager still knows how to keep loose as they flail away. Still, when your team struggles like the White Sox have, it seems like every game is the same old story.
I thought it was interesting that Kenny Williams, the White Sox GM, will often consult with players before making roster moves. Not quite as surprising is that sometimes he wishes Ozzie would just shut up.
On Friday, the series kicks off with a double header which is a makeup game for the cancelled game in April. Since the other two games of the series were split betwixt the two teams, the Twins have a chance to win two series in one weekend (in a manner of speaking). Toward that goal, Scott Baker, fresh off two quality starts, will face Jon Garland (6-5, 3.15 ERA, 1.16 WHIP), who has posted a 1.91 ERA since June 1 in 6 starts. In the nightcap, Twins fans get their first look at a Matt Garza as a starting pitcher when he will start against Gavin Floyd, who was recently recalled from the minors and will also be making his first major league start this season. He made 15 minor league starts this season with a 7-3 record, a 3.10 ERA, 0.67 HR/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 7.7 K/9. For more, here’s a review of one of those 15 starts.
Saturday afternoon will pit Boof Bonser against Mark Buehrle (5-4, 3.26 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) who’s future has been the subject of intense speculation for quite a while now. This could be the last time the Twins have to face Buehrle in a White Sox uniform (picture from South Side Sox). As always, Mark has been an innings eater for the Sox. He has thrown more than seven innings in each of his last five starts (1.91 ERA in that span).
The Buehrle saga began with the Sox trying to negotiate a contract extension, but as the Sox struggled, and the deal didn’t get done, people began to speculate as to the possibility of a trade. The deal has been on and off a few times. The hang-up on the extension was apparently a no-trade clause, which Buehrle wanted, but the Sox were unwilling to give.
It’s always been a tough franchise to embrace, and even in the afterglow of immense success, the stone face always seems to make itself evident. … It often seems like the Sox organization is businesslike on good days, cold on bad days, and vengeful in the ugliest of times. And that’s why fans get so worked up when a guy like Buehrle is on the cusp of leaving, because he’s none of those things. Aaron Rowand’s presence is demanded on every message board, mailbag and call-in show for the exact same reasons.
Going into the All-Star break the Twins will send Carlos Silva to the mound to face Javier Vazquez (5-5, 3.70 ERA, 1.08 WHIP), who has been, in a word, inconsistent this season. But when he has been on, he has been very good. He has 6 starts this year where he has allowed 1 run or less (including two starts against the Twins).
The attentive reader has probably noticed that starting pitching is not the reason the Sox are currently under .500. The bullpen has been pretty shaky, which has given Sox fans a whole new way to interpret Win Expectancy.
Finally, if you have read either of the first two White Sox previews, you know I’m a fan of Palehose 7. Recently, it has been trying times over there as
Ozzie Captain Hand has had to deal with the legend of Aaron Rowand.