The streaking Minnesota Twins find themselves battling in the only legitimate divisional race yet to be decided with a little over a week remaining in the season.
With a three-game sweep over the Chicago White Sox, the Twins have gained nothing in the race with the Detroit Tigers. They find themselves three games back in the loss column with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
Scoring 23 runs over the three-game set with Chicago was key for the Twins, as their starting pitching struggled ever so slightly, with their two rookie starters failing to earn quality starts the past two games.
In the opening game of the series, Minnesota jumped all over a lackadaisical White Sox club. Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox, has been toying with the notion of shutting down his top pitcher Mark Buehrle for the remainder of the season due to Chicago's fall from contention.
That story broke the opening day of the series and showed on Monday night. White Sox starting pitcher Daniel Hudson was granted no offensive support over his five innings of work. He gave up three runs, four hits, and four walks. The offense failed to produce a single extra base hit and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
Tuesday evening it looked like it would be the same story as the first game when Minnesota jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Chicago would battle back to take a brief one-run lead, but it wouldn't hold. Joe Mauer doubled in Orlando Cabrera, and the Twins did not let Chicago take the lead from that point forward.
Three late home runs and Joe Nathan's 43rd save of the season sealed the deal for at least a series victory for the Twins and helped them keep pace with Detroit, who won earlier in the night versus Kansas City.
The series finale offered a lot of the same for these two clubs, as Minnesota jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
Rookie pitcher Brian Duensing has been marvelous since being moved from the bullpen to his starting role, surrendering only three earned runs in his last 25 innings. Tonight the Twins got more of the same from their surprising rookie. He cruised through the first three innings before giving up runs in the next three. The offensive support was enough to improve his record to 5-1.
The Twins will be idle on Thursday as Detroit makes up the game they have in hand. Kansas City will be next for Minnesota on Friday evening as they head into a pivotal series against their divisional opponent. It will be key for Minnesota not to overlook the Royals as the Detroit series sits on the horizon.