TWINS (81-51) AT WHITE SOX (60-72)
2:10 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, FSNO, MLB.TV
Seeking a road sweep of the Chicago White Sox on Thursday afternoon, the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins will turn to one of their least-reliable pitchers of late.
A rebound effort from right-hander Jose Berrios would figure to go a long way for the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field.
If not, the Twins’ offense still has its ultimate trump card in 2019 — the long ball.
When Minnesota second baseman Jonathan Schoop drilled a three-run home run against White Sox starter Ross Detwiler in the second inning of the Twins’ 8-2 victory on Wednesday, the visitors found themselves associated with another home run record.
Schoop gave Minnesota seven players with at least 20 home runs, tying a major league mark shared by seven other clubs, most recently the 2018 Los Angeles Dodgers.
The record could belong solely to the Twins soon enough, though. Shortstop Jorge Polanco sits at 19 home runs entering Thursday, while infielder/outfielder Marwin Gonzalez has 15.
Gonzalez, however, was out of the lineup Wednesday after leaving the Tuesday game in the eighth inning due to an abdominal/right oblique injury.
“Marwin’s doing pretty well,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters esday. “The tests came back as showing, I don’t know if it’s the best way to describe it, but something probably small. Not something that we would consider major but something that we’re going to have to look after and get checked out.”
Right fielder Max Kepler, Minnesota’s leading home run hitter with 35, also was out of the lineup Wednesday, as he was scratched due to right knee soreness.
The Twins scored six runs in Berrios’ most recent start, last Friday. Trouble was, Minnesota yielded nine in a loss to the Detroit Tigers. After allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings, Berrios (10-7, 3.53 ERA) has permitted 20 earned runs in 21 1/3 innings this month.
That’s an 8.44 ERA.
“I think he’s frustrated, for sure,” Baldelli said. “No one blames a guy for being frustrated when he’s not getting the results that he wants. Jose is a guy we have complete confidence in.”
Berrios is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in three starts against the White Sox this season, however, with 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. For his career, he’s 9-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 12 starts against Chicago.
The White Sox will look to salvage the finale of the three-game series behind rookie righty Dylan Cease (3-6, 5.76 ERA), who is making his second career start against the Twins. Pitching at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 26, Cease took the loss after allowing five runs and seven hits in five innings.
Cease harnessed his fastball command Friday in an 8-3 win against the Texas Rangers, recovering to pitch six strong innings with a career-high nine strikeouts after Texas’ Willie Calhoun hit a three-run home run in the first inning.
“Yeah, his stuff is, it’s electric stuff,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria told the media of Cease. “Sometimes you wonder, ‘How can (opposing hitters) hit him,’ or, ‘How can they do this?’ It’s just big-league hitters. You leave something out over the plate or something they can manage, and they’re going to do what they can do with it.
“As long as he continues to execute and use that stuff that he has, he’s going to be OK.”
–Field Level Media