The last time the Twins and White Sox met -- not even a week ago in Chicago -- Minnesota struggled in most every offensive department except the long ball. All of their 19 runs came via the home run, as they beat the White Sox three out of four.
Fast forward just a few days -- after both teams tussled this week with a different American League Central foe -- and Chicago and Minnesota will see if any of those trends translate to their long weekend series at Target Field.
After that disappointing four-game series, the White Sox turned around and took a midweek set from the first-place Tigers. The Twins are coming off a series loss, against the Indians to start their seven-game homestand. In taking last weekend's series, the Twins own a 9-3 lead on the season series against the White Sox, and have won six of seven against them since May 15.
White Sox right-hander Andre Rienzo will square off against Twins righty Mike Pelfrey in the series opener on Thursday night.
Over the course of last weekend's four-game series, the Twins hit 11 home runs, accounting for all 19 of their runs. The power surge helped ease the pain of a 7-for-62 (.113) mark with runners in scoring position on their seven-game road trip, and 45 strikeouts in the four games.
A huge key for the Twins in that series was Justin Morneau, who hit three homers and drove in eight runs. He was reportedly placed on revocable waivers on Monday, and cleared them, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The first baseman hit just two homers with a .384 slugging percentage through May, but he hit 10 homers with a .444 slugging percentage from July 1 through Tuesday, improving his potential trade value.
It'll be up to Rienzo, still searching for his first career win, to try to stymie the Twins' lineup. The righty walked five in 5 1/3 innings in his last outing against the Twins, but also struck out five and gave the Sox a fighting chance to rally.
"Bad. It's bad," Rienzo said of his walks. "Seriously. It's really bad. Bad games make you work harder for the next time, and that game, that will for sure make me work harder for the next one."
Twins: Pelfrey expecting more from himself
Like Rienzo, Pelfrey did not mince words after his last outing to express his disappointment. He called it "atrocious" and "ridiculous," among other things and said he's "fed up" with racking up triple-digit pitch counts and not working deep into games.
"It's the same as it was the first two months," Pelfrey said, referencing his 3-6 start to the season, during which he registered a 6.66 ERA. "It's frustrating. But I've gotta look myself in the mirror. There's no one else to blame but myself. I've gotta turn this thing around."
• Catcher Ryan Doumit, placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list on Friday, could be activated as soon as Thursday. The Twins have said all along they're hopeful Doumit could come off the DL as soon as he's eligible. He was scheduled to undergo an ImPACT concussion test on Wednesday afternoon, and if all goes well, he'll be reinstated on Thursday or Friday.
White Sox: Central struggles
The White Sox are 15-35 against the AL Central this year, going 2-11 against the Indians, 5-8 against the Tigers, 5-7 against the Royals and 3-9 against the Twins. They've lost 14 of their last 17 within the division.
• Adam Dunn is hitting .310 (62-for-200) with 14 homers and 39 RBIs in his last 58 games to raise his season average from .156 to .233.
• Overall, the Twins have hit 26 home runs in their last 19 games. Morneau has seven of them. They scored 23 straight runs on homers prior to Tuesday night's sixth inning, which marked the longest such streak in Major League history.
• The last-place Sox are coming off a 6-4 homestand with series wins against a couple playoff contenders (3-0 against the Yankees and 2-1 against the Tigers). It was their first winning homestand since May 20-27.