After watching their pitching staff get rocked in a back- breaking sweep over the weekend, the White Sox starters came out with a vengeance in Monday's doubleheader.
Chicago limited Minnesota to just eight hits in taking both games of the twinbill and hopes to keep its fading playoff chances alive this evening in the third of four straight games versus the Twins.
The White Sox were outscored 35-11 in getting swept in three games by the first-place Tigers, dropping them 8 1/2 games back of first place in the division race. With Detroit also a winner on Monday, Chicago only made up a half-game in the standings with the doubleheader sweep.
The Pale Hose never let the Twins offense getting going on Monday, with Philip Humber throwing seven scoreless innings to help his club take a 2-1 victory in the opener before Zach Stewart put on a show in the nightcap.
Stewart carried a perfect game into the eighth inning before allowing a double to Danny Valencia to begin the frame, but that was the blemish for the right- hander. He struck out nine without a walk.
"I would say I noticed it in the fifth or sixth," Stewart said of his perfect game. "Going into the eighth is when I knew I had to focus, bear down and get through this."
How the rest of this series goes could dictate the end of the 2011 season for tonight's Chicago starter, Jake Peavy.
With the right-hander coming off surgery to repair a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his pitching shoulder, the White Sox could opt to shut him down for the rest of the season after tonight if they fall further out in the race. Not helping Peavy's case is the fact that he has allowed 19 runs over 23 2/3 innings since firing eight scoreless innings to beat the Twins on Aug. 7.
The 30-year-old is 1-2 since that victory and gave up six first-inning runs in a loss to Minnesota on Wednesday. Jason Kubel and Luke Hughes both hit two-run homers off of Peavy to spoil his five-frame outing.
"You go out there some day with pretty good stuff and some days you don't have that good of stuff. I thought I had good enough stuff today to compete," said Peavy, who is 6-7 with a 5.21 earned run average this season and 1-2 lifetime versus the Twins with a 4.50 ERA.
Hughes had a sacrifice fly in the ninth frame of the doubleheader opener to account for his team's only RBI, leaving Anthony Swarzak with a tough-luck loss, while Scott Diamond got no help in losing the nightcap. He gave up two runs over five innings as the Twins lost their fourth straight.
"I just didn't have my best stuff today," Diamond said. "I was having a tough time gripping the ball. I was trying to feel it out there and tried to work down in the zone. I didn't do the best job I could."
Due to Monday's twinbill, the Twins will give 22-year-old Liam Hendriks his first major league start and appearance this evening, an exciting moment for the native of Perth, Australia.
"It's amazing," Hendriks told the Twins' website. "Finding out a couple days ago was awesome. I was just packing my stuff on the bus for a seven-hour ride back to Rochester, [N.Y.], but I was told to pull my stuff off, which was kinda nice. I found out I was coming up so it was exciting."
The right-hander made 25 combined starts in Double and Triple-A, going 12-6 with a 3.36 ERA.
"Hopefully, he won't be overwhelmed," manager Ron Gardenhire said on the site. "There's no way of telling until you go out there and throw the ball. He's a guy who locates. His fastball is somewhere around 88-89 mph consistently, so if he tries to throw it 91-92, then he'll be in trouble. So he needs to stay with what got him here."
Minnesota is just 3-13 in its past 16 games and has lost seven of its last eight versus Chicago.