Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Series Preview-Twins/White Sox


WED: BRIAN DUENSING (8-2, 2.02 ERA) VS GAVIN FLOYD (10-12, 3.91 ERA)
THU: CARL PAVANO (16-11, 3.47 ERA) VS MARK BUHERLE(12-10, 3.99 ERA)

Happy Tuesday everyone. Today the Twins and White Sox kick off a crucial three game series on the south side tonight. And as Joe Christensen wrote yesterday, anything but a White Sox sweep, and the Twins can start putting champagne on ice.

Both teams have their ideal starting pitchers going in this series. So I'm not expecting to see much offense in this series. Buherle and Danks have started a combined 8 games vs Minnesota this year and have gone 4-2 with a 3.63 ERA. Meanwhile, gavin Floyd has been hit hard by the Twins as he is 0-3 with a 7.41 ERA against them this year. On the Twins side, Francisco Liriano has been one of baseball's best pitchers since the All Star break going 7-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 10 starts. Brian Duensing has made 9 starts since he was moved into the rotation and has gone 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA. And the Twins "Ace" (If you want to call him that), Carl Pavano has lost four of his past five starts, but has averaged 7.1 innings pitched during that stretch.

Twins' Key Player: Delmon Young: July was Delmon's month. The guy just raked the baseball, hitting .434, with 6 HR and 30 RBI. His OPS during that month was 1.191. To show how good that is, Albert Pujols' OPS for the season is .996. But since that incredible month, Young hit just .218 in August and is hitting .190 in September with a OPS during those months are .552 and .525 respectively. The Sox have two lefties pitching in this series (Buherle and Danks) and that really hamstrings the lefty power bats (Kubel and Thome). So the Twins need someone from the right side to step up and drive the ball. Delmon needs to be this guy. He is a career .349 hitter against the south siders and carries a .354 average at US Cellular Field. And if anyone is due to come up big for the Twins this week, its Delmon Young. Lets hope he finds that July stroke again.

White Sox Key Player: A.J. Pierzynski: In May, we were talking about A.J. as a potential player who could be wearing a different uniform, come September. But he is still on the south side. And he is getting big hits for the Sox as of late, driving in go ahead runs in the late innings. Overall in the past month he has been red hot, hitting .382 with 17 RBI. Thats pretty impressive for a catcher (Not named Mauer) this late in a season. This year against Minnesota, Pierzynski has only hit .245 with 8 RBI. And with him catching it is likely he will only play two games, so he has to make those ones count. The Sox are getting good production from the middle of their order and Pierzynski hits around the 5-6-7 area meaning he will have guys on when he comes up, and they need him to drive them, to not only win in this series, but catch the Twins in the standings too.

Prediction: To quote Bert Blyleven, "I love a good pitchers duel!" And thats exactly what were gonna see in this series at least twice. It will be interesting to see how many fans turn up at US Cellular this week as the last time the Twins were in town the average attendance as around 25,000. And that was when the Twins and Sox entered the series tied for first. But this time the Twins enter leading by 6 games with 19 games to play. The Sox need a sweep, but I don't see it with the starters Minnesota has going out there. If the Twins win game one tonight, I think the Sox kiss October goodbye and it becomes easier for the Twins to win the remaining two and nail the coffin shut. And I think thats what will happen. But I don't discredit the Sox, and they are able to win a game, but no more. Twins win 2 out of 3 and look ahead to getting home field advantage in the postseason after this series.

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