Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

4 1/2 things to know about the White Sox

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB, Twins game coverage Updated: September 8, 2010 - 10:47 AM

* The Chicago Tribune is running a poll: Will next week's White Sox-Twins series matter? One of the answers involves the Bears.

* Time is ticking. By next Thursday night, the White Sox will be out of chances to play the Twins, meaning Chicago must rely on Oakland, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City and Toronto to do half its work in the AL Central race.

The Twins and White Sox will each have 16 games remaining. Obviously, anything's possible. The Twins had a three-game deficit with four games to play last year and somehow passed the Tigers. But it's hard to imagine the White Sox gaining ground quickly in that final 16-game stretch (vs. Tigers, @ Athletics, @ Angels, vs. Red Sox, vs. Indians).

The White Sox hoped to bite into the Twins' lead before next week's series in Chicago. Now it's back to 4 1/2 games. If it's more than five games heading into next Tuesday, the White Sox might feel helpless. They'll need a sweep and a lot of luck down the stretch.

* The next two days could tell a lot. Tonight, while the Twins are facing Zack Greinke, the White Sox turn to John Danks on three day's rest, opposite Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman. Twins fans might remember, Danks was pretty good on three day's rest on this night. On Thursday, the Twins are off, so there will be a half-game swing in the standings, as Gavin Floyd and Rick Porcello duel in Detroit.

* Depth is key. The Twins are grateful to have six above-average starters. Nick Blackburn struggles, Brian Duensing takes his place. Kevin Slowey gets hurt, Blackburn jumps back into the rotation and thrives. Scott Baker gets hurt, Slowey comes off the DL and takes his place.

Justin Morneau gets a concussion, Michael Cuddyer slides seamlessly over to first base with Jason Kubel taking over in right field, and Jim Thome providing muscle. Danny Valencia tweaks his hamstring, Matt Tolbert jumps in at third base and plays like he did during the 2009 stretch run.

Adding Manny Ramirez helped add depth to Chicago's lineup. But MVP candidate Paul Konerko has missed the past two games with a bad back, and the Sox have been leaning on Mark Kotsay. Sorry Ozzie, but that's Kotsay of the .698 OPS, not Thome of the 1.042 OPS.

Meanwhile, 2B Gordon Beckham could miss a few more days with a sore right hand.

* After this, it's on to Oakland, where the White Sox record since 2001 is 6-27.

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