After emphatically ending a 10-game losing streak on Sunday, the Chicago White Sox now seek to string together consecutive wins for the first time this season
Can a seven-run, ninth-inning rally against the Tampa Bay Rays -- capped by Andrew Vaughn's walk-off, three-run homer -- propel Chicago to sustained success, starting with Tuesday's visit from the Minnesota Twins
Right-hander Mike Clevinger thinks so.
"That was almost more beneficial for us as a club than if we went out there and put up 12 in the first," he said. "That's the morale booster we need."
A jolt should be coming to the lineup, too, as the team expects shortstop Tim Anderson to return Tuesday. He's been sidelined since April 10 with a left knee sprain.
The White Sox ended a rough April by salvaging a game against the Rays, who boast the best record in the major leagues
Now comes a challenge from American League Central rival and division leader Minnesota, which took two of three from the visiting White Sox from April 10-12. Each game was decided by one or two runs
Minnesota regrouped from consecutive losses to Washington to start a 10-game homestand, winning six of the next eight.
A seven-run outburst -- albeit in the third -- also boosted the Twins on Sunday. Byron Buxton smacked a three-run home run to punctuate the inning that helped Minnesota to an 8-4 victory against Kansas City
Buxton debuted the Twins' new home run celebration moments after the blast, donning a vest emblazoned with "Land of 10,000 Rakes," a nod to the Minnesota state slogan "Land of 10,000 Lakes." Buxton also grabbed a toy fishing pole for good measure
"It's something unique that makes up our team and stands for Minnesota," Buxton said.
White Sox Tuesday starter Michael Kopech (0-3, 7.01 ERA) has kept opponents relatively reeled in since surrendering five home runs in his season debut April 3
Kopech limited Tampa Bay and Toronto to one home run in 10 innings over his past two starts but was hit hard nonetheless. He allowed four runs and six hits in Wednesday's road loss to the Blue Jays while matching his season low with four strikeouts.
Minnesota will counter with right-hander Joe Ryan (5-0, 2.81), who defeated the New York Yankees on April 25 to become the fifth pitcher in franchise history to begin a season 5-0.
Ryan spaced two runs (one earned) and seven hits in seven innings with zero walks and seven strikeouts. The Twins have won his past nine starts
"Really, from the day Joe has shown up here, he's given us a chance to win, it feels like every game," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "The days he's sharp, he's really good. The days where he might be less sharp, he finds ways to stick around, generally, and give you a chance."
Ryan took a no-decision against the White Sox in his only previous appearance against them last season, allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits in a road start on July 6
Kopech is 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA in eight career games against the Twins, including four starts, with 22 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings
--Field Level Media