Twins-White Sox: Big Series Looms in AL Central Race

John ParentCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 18:  Manager Ozzie Guillen of the Chicago White Sox looks on during the game against the Chicago Cubs on June 18, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

A short while ago, Blake VandeBunte called the AL Central a two-team race. The next three days will go a long way toward determining if he was right.

But he might have gotten the second team wrong.

When The Spot Starters made their bold declaration back on Aug. 6, Minnesota sat a distant third in the standings, some 6.5 games behind Detroit.

Thanks to a very good home stand, the Twins have crawled to within 4.5 games of Detroit and have leapfrogged the White Sox for second place, as Chicago dropped six of the first seven games on its 11-game road trip. 

Chicago heads into the Metrodome for a three-game set against the Twins starting today.

By the time play ends on Wednesday, we could yet be looking at a two-team race for the divisional crown.

As the July 31 trade deadline arrived, the White Sox made a big splash, adding pitcher Jake Peavy from San Diego. Peavy is still attempting to come back from an injury and has yet to make his first start for the White Sox.

Just after the deadline, Chicago added outfielder Alex Rios from Toronto.

These two big names were supposed to catapult the Sox past the Tigers.

The White Sox have only moved backward.

The Twins, on the other hand, have made steady progress.

They added RHP Carl Pavano from Cleveland and recently brought in LHP Ron Mahay and RHP Jon Rauch to shore up the bullpen.

There is also the strong possibility that they will add RHP Rich Harden in a deal later today, filling the Twins' need for another playoff starter, as it has been reported that LHPs Glen Perkins and Francisco Liriano will work out of the bullpen once they return from injury.

While the Twins and Sox are doing battle in Minnesota, Detroit will finish up a four-game series with Tampa, ahead of three games with Cleveland starting tomorrow. The Tigers are 42-21 at home this season and have won two of three versus the Rays so far. Jarrod Washburn and James Shields will match up in this afternoon’s finale.

If the White Sox have any shot at the postseason, their series against Minnesota will be where they begin their push.

The White Sox cannot afford to fall any further behind and will give the ball to Gavin Floyd today in an attempt to halt the free fall.

Nick Blackburn goes for Minnesota, with the Twins winning five of six home contests against Chicago this season.