The pressure is on for the Chicago White Sox.
They know that this week's three-game series against the Twins represents their last gasp for a postseason berth. It's the last time the Sox will face the team they trail by six games in the AL Central standings, and unless they can sweep the series and cut that sizable deficit in half, they're sunk. Erasing a deficit of five or more games with only 16 left to play borders on impossible when you've got no games left against the team you're chasing (particularly said team hasn't lost consecutive games in almost three weeks).
Ozzie Guillen recognizes the magnitude of this series. He started John Danks on short rest last week, setting up his rotation in advance so that the White Sox would be able to throw their three best starters at the Twins (not including Edwin Jackson, who was one of the league's hottest pitcherrs until he got roughed up by the Royals this weekend).
On the bright side, the Twins will also be trotting out their top three starters this week. Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing and Carl Pavano will likely be the Ron Gardenhire's first three choices in a playoff series (though not in that order), so the Twins will hardly be overmatched. This might also be the last opportunity for those pitchers to brush up against quality competition in meaningful games, because the Twins won't face another above-average opponent until their season-ending four-game series against the Blue Jays at Target Field, by which point the division might be locked up and Gardenhire might already be resting up his top starters for the ALDS.
A few weeks ago, this series stood out as one that might decide the fates of both of these teams. As it stands, the Twins have played well enough over the past few weeks to place all the pressure squarely on the shoulders of the White Sox. Even with a home sweep, the Sox will still have a tough uphill battle in front of them if they want to overcome the Twins. Without a sweep, their season is essentially over.