The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox are going to be real familiar with one another from here on out. The American League Central foes begin a four-game set on Friday with a day/night doubleheader at U.S. Cellular Field.
Unfortunately, the 11 games remaining between the two will be meaningless, as Chicago sits in last place in the division, 24 1/2 games back of the Detroit Tigers, while Minnesota is just above it, 18 games off the pace.
Chicago, though, enters this series on a bit of a roll after sweeping the New York Yankees in a three-game set. Of course, though, the White Sox had lost 10 in a row and 13 of 14 before that series.
"We played the game fun the last three days, it was a good time and guys competed well and we've got to try to make ourselves do that every time out there," said Chicago's Paul Konerko.
Getting the call for Robin Ventura's club in the first game will be veteran left-hander John Danks, who has lost his last four decisions. Danks' latest defeat came in Detroit on Saturday, as the Tigers reached him for three runs and six hits in seven innings, dropping him to 2-9 to go along with a 4.52 ERA.
Danks lost to the Twins the last time he faced them and is 6-10 lifetime against them with a 5.21 ERA in 22 starts.
In the second game Chicago will hand the ball to lefty Charlie Leesman, who will be making his big league debut. Leesman tore his ACL last year in the Minors, but he has returned to go 3-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 13 starts with Triple-A Charlotte this season.
"We get good reports on Charlie, and let's see what we got," Ventura said.
Minnesota, meanwhile, lost a series to Kansas City this week, but enters Friday's twinbill with wins in four of its last six games. Despite the series loss to the Royals, the Twins are 4-2-1 in their last seven series.
The Twins will rely on young righty Kyle Gibson in the opener. The 2009 first round pick, who is 2-3 on the year with a 6.69 ERA, was roughed up by the lowly Houston Astros on Saturday to the tune of four runs and nine hits in three innings.
"By all means, I want to win, and I want to win every time I go out there," Gibson said. "I want to go seven, eight, nine innings every time I go out there. But, I have to make sure that I stay focused on the work I want to do and the fact that I've made seven starts. That's not an excuse to be bad -- there's no doubt about it -- but I am still getting used to things, and I just have to try to speed up that learning curve a little bit and try to make adjustments a little better."
Going for Minnesota in the second game will be righty Liam Hendriks, who is 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA, but hasn't started since April 10. Hendriks lost that start to Kansas City, despite giving up just a run and four hits in five innings.
Hendriks, though, has lost both of his starts to the White Sox and has pitched to a 4.05 ERA in those outings.
Minnesota has won six of its eight meetings with the White Sox this season.