Considering how they've handled the Chicago White Sox in recent home matchups, the Minnesota Twins could keep making strides in the AL wild-card race this week.
Chris Sale would appear to be an imposing obstacle for the Twins on Tuesday night, but they've proved one of his most difficult opponents this season.
Minnesota (67-63) has won six of its seven home games against its AL Central rivals and eight of the last 10 overall meetings. The Twins also enter this series having won eight of 10 after taking two of three from AL West-leading Houston this weekend.
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"I know there's character in there. We're resilient. There's a lot of things I've enjoyed watching about us. We're aggressive and we're finding a way to hang in there," manager Paul Molitor told MLB's official website following a 7-5 victory Sunday.
That surge has pulled Minnesota within striking distance of Texas for the AL's second wild card, and they'll try to take another step while ending Sale's recent success.
The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his last four starts and pitched seven scoreless innings Wednesday against Boston. Sale, though, did not get a decision in the 3-0 loss but set a single-season career high with 229 strikeouts -- the most by a White Sox pitcher since Ed Walsh's 254 in 1912.
Sale (12-7, 3.20 ERA) needs one more win for his most since going a career-best 17-8 in 2012, but has dropped three consecutive starts to the Twins while posting an 8.15 ERA after beating them April 12. He gave up six runs in 6 2-3 innings in the latest matchup, a 6-1 loss June 24, and dropped to 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA in his two starts in Minnesota this season.
With their playoff hopes faint at best, the White Sox are hoping Sale can solve his woes quickly -- he'll likely face the Twins again in a home series that begins Sept. 11.
The White Sox (61-68) went 5-5 on a 10-game stretch against teams that also had losing records and needed a 6-5 win in 11 innings Sunday to salvage a four-game split against visiting Seattle.
"This is definitely crunch time. A time to get going," Sale said. "We know what we are up against, but you know this is baseball. This is sports. This is a crazy game.
"Anything can happen. We aren't giving up on the season. We definitely aren't going to give up on ourselves or each other."
Tyler Duffey (2-1, 4.29) will try again to claim a third consecutive win in his first start against the White Sox. Since struggling in his major league debut Aug. 5 in Toronto, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his last three games but did not get a decision in a 5-3 win in Tampa Bay on Wednesday after yielding two runs in 5 1-3 innings.
Avisail Garcia is batting .417 in his last 10 games versus Minnesota and is a .340 lifetime hitter at Target Field. Geovany Soto is batting .372 in his last 13 matchups, and Adam LaRoche is a career .323 hitter against Minnesota.
Eduardo Nunez is batting .433 in an eight-game hit streak versus Chicago and has a homer and two doubles in eight at-bats against Sale this season.
Brian Dozier is batting .305 with five homers and 15 RBIs versus the White Sox this season. He's 5 for 14 with a home run and two doubles against Sale this year.