MLB Picks: Twins at White Sox Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/7/2011
Sometimes one team just seems to have a hex over another, regardless of where both teams are in the standings in a given year. And one of those situations presents itself in the opener of a four-game series tonight at U.S. Cellular Field when the Minnesota Twins visit the Chicago White Sox.
How the Teams Enter
The Twins and White Sox were most people’s preseason AL Central favorites, but both have been massively disappointing. The Twins are 38-47 and eight games behind first place Cleveland in the division, while Chicago is only 3.5 games ahead of Minnesota in third place.
Minnesota has been playing better of late as some injured guys have returned from the disabled list. After a six-game losing streak, the Twins have won six of eight, taking a series from the L.A. Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays (all three coming at Target Field). However, Wednesday’s 12-5 loss to Tampa Bay was rather unique. The Twins tied the game at 5 in the bottom of the seventh, but Tampa Bay scored four runs in the eighth inning and three more in the ninth. The Twins franchise has had only one larger margin of defeat in the past 75 years in a game it was leading or tied heading into the eighth inning. That was a 12-4 loss to the Royals in August 1995, during which the bullpen allowed nine runs over the final two innings, squandering a 4-3 lead.
The White Sox fell 4-1 to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday afternoon to lose the first of six consecutive series against AL Central opponents. A total of 14 of the White Sox’s past 15 games have been decided by three runs or less, including the last 11 consecutive, and they are 8-6 in that stretch. They have also had 20 of the last 23 games decided by three or less.
Twins at White Sox Betting Storylines
Could Twins all-star Joe Mauer’s days as a full-time catcher be coming to an end? Mauer has missed time this year with injury problems likely related to crouching all game, so he will make his major-league debut tonight at first base. This is a move designed to keep Mauer in the lineup while giving him a break from the daily stresses of playing catcher. Because of myriad health issues (back, knees, legs), there has been speculation that the 6-foot-5 Mauer eventually will be forced to move to a corner infield position. In 27 games this season, Mauer is hitting only .223 with no homers and seven RBI.
If the experiment works, Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said he could see this being an occasional option. Mauer, a three-time Gold Glove winner behind the plate, never has been anything but a catcher or DH during his eight-season major league career. He last played first base 10 years ago, in a handful of Class A games.
The Twins have dominated the White Sox of late. In the last 32 games between the AL Central rivals, the Sox have won only six. They have lost all four games this season — two in each ballpark — and seven straight dating back to last season. Three of the four games have been decided by one run this year, including Twins lefty Francisco Liriano's no-hitter on May 3.
Twins at White Sox Pitching Probables
The Twins start right-hander Carl Pavano (5-6, 4.19) against surprising Sox righty Philip Humber (8-4, 2.69). Pavano enters off a no decision on Saturday against the Brewers after pitching 7.2 innings and allowing four runs (three earned) before closer Matt Capps blew the save and picked up the loss in the ninth. In his three seasons with the Twins, Pavano is 6-2 with a 3.56 ERA against the White Sox including 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA at U.S. Cellular Field.
Humber, a former Twin, only got a shot in the rotation because of injury to Jake Peavy, but he has been easily the White Sox’s top starter. He is tied for ninth in the American League in wins and is eighth in ERA. Humber is 2-1 with a 1.69 ERA in his last three starts. Humber was a member of the Twins bullpen in 2008 and 2009, appearing in 13 games and compiling a 6.24 ERA.
MLB Picks: Twins at White Sox Odds and Predictions
Minnesota is at +139 with the total at eight on Bodog. Even as beat up as they are – guys like Justin Morneau, Delmon Young and Denard Span are still out injured – go with the Twins tonight. They obviously should be very familiar with Humber’s stuff and Chicago’s offense is just too inconsistent. Plus, Pavano obviously has that track record of success against the White Sox, including going the distance in a 4-1 win back on June 15. Minnesota is 11-1 in its past 12 vs. a team with a losing record as well. Finally, go with the ‘under’ as that has it in all four meetings this year.
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