Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins Preview and Pick – Javier Vazquez vs. Scott Baker

Chicago White Sox (86-69) +120, 8 1/2 at Minnesota Twins (84-72), 8:10 pm Eastern Tuesday
by Zman of

The Minnesota Twins make their last-gasp effort at tracking down the Chicago White Sox in the American League’s Central Division beginning tonight when the two teams commence a three-game series at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Baseball bookmakers are listing the Twins and starting pitcher Scott Baker (9-4, 3.69, 1.21 WHIP) as 135 home favorites for Tuesday’s game, with a total of 8 1/2, while the Sox and Javier Vazquez (12-14, 4.32, 1.30) are getting +120 as road underdogs.

The Twins fell out of the AL wild-card race a while back, but have hung around in the Central, always a game or two back of the Sox. Heading into Tuesday night’s series opener, Chicago leads Minnesota by 2 1/2 games, with each team six yet to play. And if it matters after Sunday’s play, the Sox would have to play a make-up game vs. Detroit Monday.

Both teams have been stumbling down the stretch, though. The White Sox, who just took two of three games from the Royals in KC over the weekend, are still just 10-13 over their last 23 games. Meanwhile, the Twins just dropped two of three games at Tampa over the weekend, and are just 12-18 over their last 30.

Chicago is 35-43 on the road this year, 27-36 as underdogs, and 82-71 vs. the run line.

Minnesota is 49-26 at home this season, 43-23 as favorites, and 90-64 vs. the run line.

The White Sox have taken eight of 15 games from the Twinkies so far this season, with the totals going 10-5, as the games have averaged a healthy 11.3 total runs per.

Over his last three starts, including a bombing at the hands of the Yankees last Thursday, Vazquez has allowed eight ER and 23 baserunners (hits + walks) in 17 1/3 IP. Chicago is 16-15 in Vazquez’ starts this year, the totals 15-15.

Vazquez, who’s ERA is a full run higher on the road than at home this season, has made seven starts vs. the Twins this year and last, giving up 17 ER and 56 BR in 48 IP. The Sox won six of those seven games, with the totals going 5-1-1.

Over his last three starts, including a poor performance vs. Cleveland last Wednesday, Baker has given up eight ER and 22 BR in 18 IP. Minnesota is 15-11 in Baker’s starts this year, the totals 15-10.

Baker, who’s ERA is three-quarters of a run lower at home this year than on the road, has started five games this year and last vs. the White Sox, allowing 23 ER and 41 BR in just 21 IP. The Twins managed to go 4-1 in those five games, with the totals going a perfect 5-0.

Offensively, Chicago ranks 13th in the majors this season in team BA at .264, 14th in team OBP at .334, 2nd in team slugging at .450, and is averaging 5.0 runs per game.

Minnesota ranks 3rd in batting at .280, 9th in OBP at .340, 19th in slugging at .409, and is averaging 5.1 RPG.

Over the last five games, the Chicago bullpen has allowed six ER and 15 BR in 12 1/3 IP.

Over its’ last five games, the Minnesota pen has given up 10 ER and 25 BR in 24 IP.

The totals are 72-77 in Sox games this year, and six of their last eight have stayed under the totals. Meanwhile, the totals are 86-66 in Twins games this season, and their last five games have all played over. And the totals are 37-36 in games played at the Metrodome this year, which are averaging 9.1 total runs.

Zman’s Pick: Over 8.5 runs.