By Adam Hoge-
CHICAGO (CBS) The numbers are frightening and inexplicable.
The White Sox have lost five in a row to the Twins.
The White Sox have lost 12 of their last 14 games against the Twins.
The White Sox have lost 22 of their last 28 games in Minneapolis.
Sure, the Twins have been the class of the American League Central during their recent dominance of Ozzie Guillen’s team, but it’s not like the White Sox have been that bad. They’ve been more than capable of beating the Twins — and a lot of the games have been extremely close — but the White Sox just can’t seem to come up with the big play or the big hit to win the game. Meanwhile, the Twins have come up with plenty of those (Jim Thome’s walk-off home run at Target Field last year jumps out the most).
Even when Minnesota were one of the worst teams in baseball in early May, the White Sox couldn’t come up with a win in a short two-game series. In fact, they got no-hit by Francisco Liriano and only scored two total runs in the series.
And I know what Sox fans are thinking right now: “The Twins have been horrible all year-long and now they are going to run off nine wins in their last 11 right games right before the Sox come to town? Of course.”
In that regard, it doesn’t look good for the White Sox this week as they visit Target Field for a three-game series starting Tuesday night. But there is one glaring fact that should give Chicago fans some optimism:
The White Sox are clearly a much better baseball team.
I happened to be at the Twins’ last spring training game in Fort Myers, Fla. this past March and remember thinking to myself, “This is the team they are rolling out this year?” Sure, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Jim Thome and Delmon Young were still in the lineup, but suddenly Orlando Hudson had turned into Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Nick Punto had turned into Danny Valencia. The depth on the team had pretty much disappeared too. I didn’t have any faith in Jason Repko, Matt Tolbert or Trevor Plouffe. And sorry if a starting rotation of Liriano, Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker and Brian Duensing didn’t scare me.
Now, I certainly didn’t envision the Twins getting off to a 17-37 start. I thought they would be somewhat competitive, but I didn’t think they would battle the White Sox for the division crown this season.
But when you consider the injuries Minnesota has had this year — Mauer, Young, Thome, Joe Nathan, Liriano, Kubel, Denard Span, and Nishioka have all spent time on the disabled list — it’s not hard to see why the Twins have been so bad.
If I thought the White Sox lineup and pitching was better top-to-bottom on opening day, then I certainly have to think it is better today with Mauer, Kubel, Span, Nishioka and Nathan still on the disabled list. Morneau also missed the last three games with a sore left wrist and his status in question for tonight’s game.
The point is, it’s time to get over this nonsense with the Twins. They might have had the White Sox number over the last three and a half years (I’m including the two games earlier this year when the White Sox were playing horribly as well), but it’s simply time to get over that. When the lineups get announced later today, I’d like to hear someone try to tell me the Twins have an edge over the White Sox in any category other than coaching. They simply do not.
If the White Sox are serious about winning the division this year — if they truly are “all in” — then there is no excuse not to win two of three in Minneapolis this week. And if they want to show that they are really serious about contending, it might not be a bad idea to pull off the sweep and gain another three games on the Twins in mid-June.
You might think that is asking a lot — and I actually agree with you — but if the White Sox want their fans to buy into this “all in” stuff then step No. 1 should be beating the team you haven’t been able to beat for three years.
Step No. 1 needs to be: Beat the Minnesota Twins.
Do you agree with Adam? Post your comments below.
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.