The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox have boasted two of baseball's better offenses for most of the season, but they find themselves struggling to score.
They'll try to break out Thursday night at Target Field in the opener of a four-game series.
Minnesota (46-54) took two of three from visiting Cleveland this week after dropping eight of 10 at home. Oswaldo Arcia homered in a 3-1 win Wednesday, but the Twins - averaging 4.2 runs - have scored 15 times over the last six games while going 6 for 46 (.130) with runners in scoring position.
The White Sox (48-54) have also averaged 4.2 runs but are batting .179 with runners in scoring position during a 4-7 stretch. Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 13 games Wednesday with his 23rd double, but Chicago managed one run for the second straight contest in a 2-1 loss to Kansas City.
Twins starters have also endured tough times recently, posting a 6.60 ERA over eight games before Anthony Swarzak threw five innings of one-run ball in a spot start Wednesday in place of Kyle Gibson.
They hope Phil Hughes (10-6, 4.06 ERA) can provide a strong performance as well, though he's 3-3 with a 6.34 ERA over his last six starts. That stretch began with a 6-5 win over Chicago on June 22 despite Hughes giving up five runs in five innings.
The right-hander owned a 1.34 ERA against the White Sox before being charged with four runs over five innings while not receiving a decision in a 10-9 win in Chicago on April 3.
Hughes gave up five runs and a career worst-matching 11 hits over seven innings in a 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday.
The White Sox counter with Hector Noesi (4-7, 5.21), who yielded four runs over seven innings without a decision in a 5-4 loss at Minnesota on June 20.
He's won two of his last three starts, including 4-3 over Houston on Saturday when he allowed three runs in six innings.
"I'm getting prepared for the second half to be tough," Noesi said. "So, I'm more aggressive when I go to the mound."
Noesi won't face Kendrys Morales, who was traded from Minnesota to Seattle on Thursday for minor-league pitcher Stephen Pryor in a sign the Twins are starting to look at selling some of their veteran pieces to retool for next season.
Kurt Suzuki is 16 for 32 over his last eight games against Chicago.
Twins closer Glen Perkins has held opponents scoreless in eight straight appearances, but two of his three blown saves have come against the White Sox. He owns a 9.00 ERA against them compared to a 1.98 mark versus all other teams.
Dayan Viciedo was scratched from Chicago's lineup Wednesday due to a tight left hamstring. He had been hitting .111 with 16 strikeouts over his previous 11 games.
Minnesota lost two of three at Chicago to open the season but swept a four-game set at Target Field from June 19-22. Abreu drove in nine runs in the seven meetings.
A sixth straight victory in the series would mark the Twins' longest winning streak against the White Sox since taking nine straight meetings Sept. 14, 2010-July 8, 2011.
The Associated Press News Service
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