The White Sox are back in town.
Over the past handful of years, that's been music to the ears of baseball fans in Minnesota. Since 2008, the Twins are 21-6 at home against the Sox. Ozzie Guillen often lamented his team's hex at the Metrodome (where they hadn't posted a winning record since 2005), and Target Field has – up to this point – not proven much friendlier.
Baseball is a random game where few things can be relied upon, but success for the Twins when facing the South Siders on their own turf has been one of them.
Will that continue to be the case this year? Rain has delayed the latest chapter of this classic rivalry, which figures to get underway tonight. It seems an appropriate time to gauge each club.
At present, the Twins and White Sox both find themselves in unfamiliar and undesirable territory: the bottom.
Chicago has gradually recovered from its miserable 14-23 start, winning 19 of 31 to move within two games of .500.
The Twins, on the other hand, saw their early drought carry on longer and have experienced a more rapid correction, with nine wins in their past 11 games. They remain 13 games under .500, but will look to continue their march toward respectability this week against Chicago.
Prior to the season, most people expected the Tigers, White Sox and Twins to battle for the AL Central crown. With the latter two climbing steadily while the Indians free-fall (they've dropped 11 of their last 15), we may be seeing the cream rise to the top.
But Detroit isn't going away, so these are critical games for the teams set to compete at Target Field tonight and tomorrow. With Alexi Casilla and Ben Revere setting the tone for the offense (and Tsuyoshi Nishioka likely to be activated for tonight's game), the Twins will employ a speed-based, small-ball approach that prompted Ozzie Guillen to token the "piranhas" nickname several years ago.
If the Twins can effectively implement this game plan and win, as they have consistently over the past couple weeks, we can expect plenty of effuse praise for the scrappy bunch from Ron Gardenhire. And Guillen, of course.