Chris Sale wanted to give the Chicago White Sox a chance to beat their closest division rival, but instead he will have to settle for facing a team he has dominated this season.
Originally set to pitch on Thursday, a rain out has bumped Sale into a start on Friday night against the Minnesota Twins in the opener of a three-game series.
Chicago was scheduled to wrap a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers, who it leads by just a game for first place in the AL Central, but the game was postponed until Monday due to poor weather. It will be the final meeting of the season between the teams and will now come on what was supposed to be an off day for the White Sox during a nine-game road trip.
Sale was aiming to pitch Chicago to a series split after it dropped the previous two encounters with Detroit following Monday's series-opening 6-1 win. He has lost all three of his previous outings against the Tigers this season and was looking forward to facing the rival club one more time.
"There's not much you can do in this situation, just get ready and head out to Minnesota and go play hard there," said Sale.
The 23-year-old lefty has had much better luck against the Twins, winning both of his starts against them this year while allowing two runs over 14 innings while striking out 11.
Sale has recorded a decision in each of his last 12 starts, going 8-4 with a 3.57 earned run average in that time. He avoided a third straight loss on Saturday with a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals, giving up a run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
He is 16-6 with a 2.88 ERA in 26 games this season overall, all but one of those starts.
While Detroit opens a series on Friday against the Cleveland Indians, Chicago visits a Minnesota club that holds the same 60-84 record as the Tribe.
The Twins salvaged the final contest of a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, winning 4-3 on Denard Span's RBI double in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Span's game-winner marked the third straight inning that the Twins had scored. Josh Willingham, who hit a solo homer in the first inning, drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth with two outs before Trevor Plouffe launched a game-tying solo homer to begin the ninth.
"It's something that you have to build on. We're a team that wants to finish strong," said Plouffe. "We don't want to go out losing a bunch of games."
Minnesota was short in depth at the catching position for Thursday's final. Joe Mauer missed his third game in a row with back spasms, while Ryan Doumit sat out with a strained oblique suffered making a throw while playing the outfield on Wednesday.
Both are day-to-day and Drew Butera got the start on Thursday.
September call-up Esmerling Vasquez will make his third start with the Twins after going 9-6 with a 2.78 ERA in 31 outings (8 starts) at Triple-A this year.
The right-hander lost his season debut on Sept. 2 at Kansas City, yielding five runs over 5 2/3 innings, and things did not go much better in his second outing on Sunday versus the Indians. Vasquez yielded four runs on three hits and five walks in just three innings of work.
In his only other career appearance against the White Sox, the 28-year-old Vasquez was touched for four runs while logging only one out in a relief outing.
The White Sox have won 11 of their 15 meetings this season with the Twins, going 4-2 at Minnesota.