Game on. After the Twins took two of three in Cleveland and the White Sox lost three of four in Baltimore (against a very different club with Buck Showalter in charge), the AL Central division race is now tied. And Minnesota plays Chicago six times in the next 10 days, so this may be the most critical stretch of the season for the Twins playoff hopes. On the season, the Twins are 6-3 against the White Sox, including identical winning percentage at home (4-2) and in Chicago (2-1). Dating back to last year, the Twins have won six of their last seven games at New Comiskey Park (I refuse to call it U.S. AT&T Blackberry or whoever is sponsoring in Chicago), so the Twins have certainly had success in Chicago.
|2010 - Scott Baker||9-9||22||22||0||0||0||0||134.0||148||70||70||18||28||113||4.70||1.31|
Scott Baker's overall line isn't particularly good, he has a high (4.70) ERA and he's given up 148 hits in only 134 innings. But looking beyond the overall numbers, Baker has the lowest xFIP of his career (3.93 versus 4.24 career average), as he's striking out a career high 7.59 batters per nine innings while walking only 1.88 per nine, good for a strikeout to walk ratio above 4.0. In other words, exactly what an extreme fly ball pitcher needs to do in order to be successful. Over the last couple seasons, Baker has been a second half pitcher, and this year is no different. Over his past three starts, Baker is 2-0, pitching 20.1 innings giving up 14 hits, 5 ER, 1 HR and 6 BB against 17 strikeouts. Last time out against Seattle, Baker pitched 8 scoreless innings at Tampa only to have new closer Matt Capps blow the save in the ninth before the Twins won in 13 innings. This season, Scott is 1-0 against the White Sox, in an early April start in Chicago, Baker gave up one run in 7 innings as the Twins won 2-1. Watch out when Paul Konerko comes to the plate, he has hit three home runs off Baker during his career, the only active White Sox hitter to have hit a home run against Baker.
|2010 - Freddy Garcia||10-4||20||20||0||0||0||0||117.0||129||61||59||15||37||70||4.54||1.42|
Freddy Garcia is something of an enigma to me. He no longer has the mid-90s fastball we saw in Seattle, nowadays he throws his fastball around 87 MPH, and he mixes a slider and changeup about as often as the fastball. According to fangraphs, Garcia's changeup is by far his best pitch (+9.2 runs), while his fastball and slider are both below average. The good news for the Twins is that this is the fourth time we have seen Garcia and his changeup this season. Freddy pitched well in his first two starts (1-1, 14 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 7 SO), but last time out the Twins pounded the changeup (and pretty much everything else) for 11 hits in 6 innings for a 7-6 victory.
Lineups will be posted after the jump once they are available.
08/10/10 8:10 PM EDT
|Minnesota Twins||Chicago White Sox|
|Denard Span - CF||Juan Pierre - LF|
|Orlando Hudson - 2B||Omar Vizquel - 3B|
|Joe Mauer - C||Alex Rios - CF|
|Delmon Young - LF||Paul Konerko - 1B|
|Jason Kubel - RF||Mark Kotsay - DH|
|Michael Cuddyer - 1B||Alexei Ramirez - SS|
|Jim Thome - DH||Carlos Quentin - RF|
|Danny Valencia - 3B||Ramon Castro - C|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Brent Lillibridge - 2B|