I was ready. Hawk and Stone Pony were ready. All my southside brethren were ready. All ready for the first of three huge mid-week series between the White Sox and the Twins which would have a major bearing on the AL Central crown. So, what’s wrong? What’s wrong is that the Sox also may have been ready for the Twins series while they were supposed to be busy taking care of the lowly Orioles at Camden Yards. The Showalter O’s took 3 of 4 with last night’s victory, leaving the Sox and Twins in a dead heat going into this week’s series at the Cell.
The Twins come to town looking like they have righted the ship after a few brief hiccups this summer, and in the Twin Cities, when the ship (or party boat) goes wrong, look out. Just ask the Vikings. When it comes to Sox-Twins though, things have been going the Twins way so far this season as they have taken 6 of the first 9. Unfortunately for the Sox, this is how it has been going since the turn of the millennium. Ron Gardenhire replaced Tom Kelly at the helm of Minnesota’s Boat in the Hump Dome in 2002. Every year since, except for the Sox ’05 championship year and a 9-9 push in ’07, the Twins have won the season series. Overall, Gardenhire’s record against the Sox is 85-73. One could say that they are giving special attention to defeating their rivals in the Windy City, but this record is just consistent with their play against the rest of the league.
Ozzie took over for the Sox in 2004. His record against the Twins is 56-64, in ’09 and ’10 so far, it’s 9-18. Now, the Twins have had some very good teams, but the Sox were arguably better in at least a couple of those years. There is just something they have over us. Mauer? Well, yeah of course. Morneau, Gardenhire? There is no better example than the most recent tilt between the two AL Central titans. On 7/18, it looked like a sweep was going to be avoided, leading 6-3 into the bottom of the ninth at Target Field. But, Jenks came in, then Santos, faced a total of 6 batters, didn’t get anyone out and the Twins rallied for a 7-6 victory, completing the three game sweep. So, what is the problem? It has to be a mental thing. The edge. The mojo. Some sort of intangible advantage. Whatever it is, the Sox need to find it, use it and win at least 5 of these last 9 with the Twins, six of which are in Chicago. If it can be found anywhere, it can be found at the Cell, where the Sox have only lost twice since June 8th. All of the other games count of course, but these will be the keys to the Central castle this year.
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Written by Patrick Kelley