The Chicago White Sox (1-1) open the second series of the 2017 campaign Friday evening against the Minnesota Twins (3-0). Here is our series preview. And be sure to check back for the latest preview on the afternoon of the first game of each series this season.
White Sox Preview
The White Sox come into their series against the Minnesota Twins riding high. Not only did James Shields collect only his second victory in his last 13 starts, but the offense dropped 11 runs on Matt Boyd, Anibal Sanchez and the Detroit Tigers after taking the loss on Opening Day.
On offense, Matt Davidson did a couple things (HR, 3B, 3 R on Thursday), Melky Cabrera has four doubles and three runs scored over 12 plate appearances, Jose Abreu is off to a hot start and Avisail Garcia has two multi-hit games (though he is still the worst right fielder in baseball). All in all, the offense comes into their second series with balance and momentum.
A couple of other things to keep an eye on this series are the play of Jacob May, who has looked good in center but over-matched at times at the plate, and how Jose Quintana bounces back after his Opening Day loss. I expect both will be fine, though getting on track will surely benefit both.
And pay attention to the bullpen. Going into Friday’s tilt, the groups has only allowed seven base-runners (3 H, 4 BB) over 7.1 innings pitched. The walks are a concern, of course, but they’ve looked good otherwise. Will be interesting to see if they can continue the success against a suddenly patient Twins team.
Two more things. Friday night offers White Sox fans their first taste of Derek Holland at Guaranteed Rate. We’re not expecting much, though six innings of three-run ball would be appreciated. And if someone can get Todd Frazier to stop popping the ball up and leaving men on base, we’d appreciate it. It’s not too much to ask.
Remember when Todd Steverson came over from the Oakland A’s to replace Jeff Manto? A common hope among White Sox fandom (myself included) was that the club was finally going to focus on getting on base via the walk. Yeah. No. The offense hasn’t finished with an on-base percentage over .317 in his three seasons to date.
The Twins, on the other hand, have responded in a big way to the addition of hitting coach James Rowson, drawing 23 walks with 21 runs scored in their three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals. To be sure, the sample size is miniscule and means nothing. It’s only three games, after all. The larger point remains, however: The Twins look patient at the plate. Seeing if they can keep it up is the story-line for them on offense.
Like the White Sox, the Twins bullpen fared well, logging 10 scoreless innings with 11 Ks and only two free passes during the opening series. Hard to mount a comeback when the relief corps is controlling the strike zone. That makes it especially important for the White Sox to take advantage of both Phil Hughes and Adalberto Mejia on Friday and Saturday before Ervin Santana toes the rubber Sunday afternoon.
The Twins are off to their best start in a decade. Should be a good series.
Where to Watch and Listen
Friday: 7:10 p.m., WGN
Saturday: 1:10 p.m., CSN-Chicago
Sunday: 1:10 p.m., CSN-Chicago
*All games on WLS-AM 890
*In which I take random stabs at calling the result ahead of time. One of these has to be right. Eventually.
Friday: Hughes keeps White Sox hitters off balance. Dutch does not enjoy the same results.
Saturday: Gonzo looks solid in his 2017 debut, tossing six innings and leaves with the lead. David Robertson gets his first save.
Sunday: Jose Quintana throws a complete-game shutout. Allowing only one runner on routine fly ball Avisail Garcia should have caught. But, you know, Avi’s gonna Avi.
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