Following up Chris Sale's latest gem will be no easy feat, but Hector Santiago just may be up to the task.
The Chicago White Sox hurler takes the mound on Monday evening looking to keep up his solid start to the season in the opener of a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins.
After going 0-1 with a 2.51 earned run average in seven relief outings during April, Santiago was put into the rotation in place of the injured Gavin Floyd and has allowed just one earned run, six hits and four walks in two starts this month while striking out 14.
The lefty won at Texas on May 2 before getting a no-decision in Tuesday's 1-0 extra-inning loss to the New York Mets. Santiago threw seven scoreless innings to keep the White Sox in a game that was dominated by the Mets' Matt Harvey.
Santiago, who has a 1.69 ERA on the season, is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five all-time meetings with the Twins, including one start. The 25-year-old faced them in relief on April 20 and picked up a loss, charged with an unearned run on two hits in the 10th frame of a 2-1 decision. The winning run scored on a throwing error by Alexei Ramirez.
Chicago salvaged the finale of a three-game series on Sunday with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim behind a dominating effort by Sale, who struck out seven to highlight a one-hit 3-0 shutout.
Sale was nearly perfect, allowing just the one hit on a clean single up the middle from Mike Trout with one away in the seventh inning.
Chris Iannetta was the only other Angel to reach base on an error to start the ninth, but Sale bounced back by inducing a double-play groundout from Luis Jimenez before retiring Alberto Callaspo to secure his first career shutout and second complete game.
"I come to the ballpark every day when I'm pitching and just want to keep my team in the game and win this game," Sale added.
Alexei Ramirez recorded three hits, two RBI and a run scored, while Alex Rios added an RBI double to help the White Sox snap a four-game home skid with just their third victory in eight games.
The Twins enter this tough pitching matchup off just their second shutout loss of the season, a 6-0 defeat to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday. Minnesota closed a recent road trip by taking three of four in Boston, but began its nine-game homestand by dropping two of three to Baltimore.
Joe Mauer extended his hitting streak to 11 games, while starter Scott Diamond took the loss after yielding all six runs on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Minnesota had scored at least five runs in six straight games before getting shut out.
"We've been swinging good and banging the ball around," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of his team's recent success. "You're going to have one of those days every once in a while. That's a very good baseball team over there."
The Twins' Pedro Hernandez gets his first look at his former club when he makes his fifth start and seventh appearance of the season.
The 24-year-old lefty made his MLB debut with one start for the White Sox a season ago before getting traded to the Twins along with Eduardo Escobar on July 28 of last year for Francisco Liriano.
Hernandez has made three straight starts and is 1-0 with a 5.96 ERA this season. However, he lasted just two innings in Boston on Wednesday, charged with six runs on seven hits in a game the Twins won 15-8, leaving their starter without a decision.
The White Sox took 14 of 18 from the Twins a season ago, but Minnesota won both meetings of a rain-shortened two-game set in mid-April at Chicago.