White Sox, Twins begin showdown in AL Central race

MLB

CHICAGO — One game separates the American League Central-leading Chicago White Sox and the second-place Minnesota Twins as the teams open a four-game series in Chicago on Monday night.

While the Twins boast a 4-2 edge against the White Sox this season, Chicago is excited about its momentum entering a series that is sure to play a crucial role in the club’s bid for its first postseason berth since 2008.

“I think we’ve got an advantage on them,” White Sox shortstop and leadoff hitter Tim Anderson told reporters. “You’ve seen our lineup. From top to bottom, we’ve got some guys that can hit, and obviously our defense has been great, so we’ve just got to continue to push and it’ll take care of itself.”

The White Sox (30-16) have won eight of nine and are outscoring opponents 164-79 during a 20-5 tear since Aug. 16. Chicago is coming off a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers to open a seven-game homestand.

Left fielder Eloy Jimenez notched his AL-best 19th multi-hit game in Sunday’s 5-2 win against Detroit, while Anderson had his 17th. First baseman Jose Abreu has 15 multi-hit games this season.

Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team lost 9 of 10 to Chicago this season, said the White Sox have “great hitters” who make up “a great lineup all the way up and down.”

Perhaps the only Chicago player who isn’t clicking entering the final two weeks of the season is rookie center fielder Luis Robert. After a strong August, Robert is batting .135 with 14 strikeouts in 10 games in September.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria gave Robert a day off Sunday.

“These are common little waves, and it doesn’t take away from all of the gifts he has in terms of talent,” Renteria said. “He’s going to be fine.”

Minnesota (30-18) comes to Chicago with wins in 10 of its last 12 games, including a three-game sweep of the visiting Cleveland Indians over the weekend.

While the Twins are vying to repeat as division champions, they created important distance between themselves and the third-place Indians over the weekend, taking a 3 1/2 game lead on Cleveland with 12 games to play.

“Definitely we are in really good shape,” Minnesota designated hitter Nelson Cruz said. “We’re coming.”

The Twins belted 11 home runs during the series. Cruz hit his 16th, tied for tops in the majors with Luke Voit of the Yankees and Mike Trout of the Angels, as part of a four-homer barrage in Minnesota’s 7-5 win Sunday.

Reliever Trevor May (back cramps) and outfielder Eddie Rosario (left elbow contusion) both left the game and are day-to-day.

Twins right-hander Jose Berrios (4-3, 4.40 ERA) gets the start in his third appearance against Chicago this season. Berrios allowed one run over six innings to defeat the White Sox on Sept. 2, after surrendering five runs in four innings in a no-decision on Opening Day.

Berrios has made 16 starts against the White Sox and is a sparkling 12-2 with a 2.69 ERA. He has 109 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings against Chicago.

Righty Dylan Cease (5-2, 3.33 ERA) will start for Chicago. Cease has logged five or fewer innings in each of his past three starts and has not faced the Twins this season.

Cease is 0-2 with a 16.71 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota.

–Field Level Media

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