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Twins Begin Second Half Against The First-Place White Sox

(Sports Network) - An eight-game winning streak propelled the Chicago White Sox to the top of the American League Central at the All-Star break. Tonight, they put that streak on the line against a division foe, as they open a four- game set with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

With their manager and general manager feuding, the White Sox were 9 1/2 games out of first place back on June 8. However, wins in 25 of their final 30 games before the break has them a half-game in front of the Detroit Tigers in the Central.

"I think it is a shock just because the way the team was playing, how many games we were out of first place. It's a shock how quick we did it," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I know we are going to compete this year and hopefully we stay the same way we are right now. We put ourselves in a pretty nice spot and see what happens the rest of the summer."

Starting pitching has been the difference for Chicago, which has received quality starts in 27 of its last 31 games.

"We've been pitching well," Guillen recently said. "All five [of our starters] give our team a chance to win."

Left-hander John Danks gets the call for Guillen's crew tonight, as he tries to follow up a brilliant effort his last time out. Danks took a no-hitter into the seventh and tossed a two-hit shutout to beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last Thursday, striking out seven without walking a batter to improve to 8-7, while lowering his earned run average to 3.29.

He has allowed three runs or less in all but one of his past six starts.

Danks, though, lost to the Twins the last time these teams met and is 4-6 lifetime against them with a 5.03 ERA.

As hot as Chicago was heading into the break, the Twins were just as cold, losing five of their final seven games to slip 3 1/2 games back in the Central.

Of the Twins' five division titles in the last eight years, just one of them have come with the team holding the top spot at the break.

Trying to get Minnesota on track this evening will be righty Kevin Slowey, who is 8-5 with a 4.64 ERA. Slowey was roughed up in his last start on July 7 in Toronto, as he allowed five runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings. However, he did not get a decision in that one, despite his team's 6-5 setback.

"He's frustrated just like everybody else," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've got a few of those guys that have to right their ships. But going and making wholesale changes on guys that we've put our stock into, I don't know about that right away."

Slowey lost to the White Sox the last time he faced them and is 2-3 against them with a 5.66 ERA in seven games, six of which have been starts.

Minnesota has won three of its five matchups with the White Sox this season.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.