CHICAGO — A lot of the names are new, but it’s still the White Sox that Tommy Milone will face tonight. That fact probably gives him a little extra confidence.
Milone is 4-0 against Chicago in his career, seven starts that total 45 innings. He owns a 1.39 ERA against the White Sox, and at U.S. Cellular Field, that ERA shrinks to 0.61 — one run allowed in 14 2/3 innings.
Three of his wins have come this season, and his ERA is 0.87 against the Sox this year, so the lefthander enters the game with plenty of positive vibes, manager Paul Molitor said. Vibes don’t win games, he added, but they help.
“You know as a hitter there are certain pitchers you feel better against, and I’m sure for pitchers there are certain teams you feel more confident against,” Molitor said. “The funny thing is, the people you’re facing change. It’s the same team, but you’re going to see some different people. … [If] you know you’ve had success against a given team, it probably aids you when you go out there.”
The Twins will take any edge they can get, because they remain tantalizingly close to a playoff spot. Texas is just one game ahead in the race for the final wild-card spot, and the Twins know that when this weekend is over, they will have just 20 games to play — 13 of them at Target Field.
A couple of pitchers made progress Saturday toward helping over those final three weeks. Molitor said closer Glen Perkins played catch today from 90 feet at Target Field, and felt no tightness in his back. He’ll move on to a mound, hopefully within a couple of days, Molitor said.
Meanwhile, Phil Hughes threw 40 pitches in the bullpen this afternoon, and reported that he feels normal as he prepares for his first start in five weeks, Tuesday against the Tigers.
The Twins and White Sox both cancelled batting practice today, so the clubhouse was full of interested football fans watching college games. Torii Hunter was monitoring his son’s play in the Notre Dame game, of course, while Byron Buxton (along with fellow Georgia native Blaine Boyer) was living and dying with the Georgia game, partly, he said, because he knows several players on the Bulldogs roster.
Buxton and Hunter are both in the lineup for tonight’s second game of the series. The Twins can clinch a winning record on this nine-game road trip with a victory tonight. Here are the lineups: