Series Preview: Minnesota Twins

(Courtesy of Ian Martin)

As energetic as the crosstown series against the Cubs was, the real series starts Tuesday as the Sox play the first-place Twins in Minnesota. The three-game set is the first of two against the Twins over the next nine days.

Opponent: Minnesota Twins
Record: 40-34, .541, Division Leader (AL Central)
Place: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Time & TV: Game 1: 7:05 p.m. (WCIU); Game 2: 7:05 p.m. (FSN); Game 3: 12:05 p.m. (FSN)
2002 Record vs Sox: 11-8
2003 Record vs Sox: 4-2

THE LATEST
The Minnesota Twins have had a sub-par June with a record of 9-11. Their lead in the AL Central has dwindled to just one game over Kansas City, and 5 1/2 in front of the White Sox. Minnesota is led at the plate by left-handed first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz with a .306 average. Corey Koskie leads in the power department with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs. Minnesota's team pitching has slipped to seventh in the AL with a 4.41 ERA. They are also second in ERA in the AL Central to the Chicago White Sox. The staff is led by Kyle Lohse, who has a 6-5 record with a 3.70 ERA. Eddie Guardado has 19 saves while only blowing one.

WHO'S HOT (Last 7 days)
Corey Koskie, 3B: .429, 4 HR, 11 RBI, .893 SLG, 1.393 OPS, 5 BB
--Koskie has done everything possible to help his team, but the Twins haven't followed. He has raised his average above .300 and is now the Twins biggest power threat.

WHO'S NOT (Last 7 days)
Cristian Guzman, SS: . 208, 5 hits in 24 at-bats, 1 RBI, 5 Total Bases, 1 CS
--Guzman has been streaky up to this point in 2003. He has struggled to raise his average up above .270, and his on-base percentage has not gone above .300.

PITCHING PROBABLES
Game #1:
Esteban Loaiza (10-2, 2.15, 84 K) vs. Rick Reed (3-7, 4.97, 30 K)
--Reed's season has been rather lackluster up to this point. He has lost his usual control and has been prone to the longball. His best pitch is his sinker. He also throws a fastball, changeup and a slider.

Game #2:
Jon Garland (5-6, 4.71, 45 K) vs. Joe Mays (8-4, 5.48, 36 K)
--Mays has won five of his last six decisions, but his ERA has yet to drop below 5.00. He throws a fastball, curve and a change, but he features his sinker. The sinker has nasty movement and is his out pitch. Joe has earned the nickname "Cy" amongst Sox fans because of his spectacular starts against Chicago.

Game #3:
Mark Buehrle (4-10, 4.90, 49 K) vs. Brad Radke (5-6, 5.74, 50 K)
--A battle of two pitchers who have a history of struggles against each other's team and in the Metrodome. Buehrle, who has looked stronger of late, has the edge between the two.

KEY TO THE SERIES
Take advantage of games one and three. Reed is hurt while Radke has been plain old inconsistent. It will be hard for the Sox to pull off the second game with Mays going, so game one is vital if they are to gain ground. Also, like the Twins in the dome, they must try to use the turf to their advantage.

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