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Updated: June 13th, 2011 9:53pm
Twins Daily: White Sox righty Gavin Floyd got rocked last season

Twins Daily: White Sox righty Gavin Floyd got rocked last season

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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Riding a hot streak with nine wins in their past 11 games and following their first scheduled off-day since May 26, the Minnesota Twins continue their 10-game homestand by opening a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.

Numbers game

18: Sellouts for the Twins in 25 games (72%) this season at Target Field, where they improved to 9-16 by taking three of four from the Texas Rangers in the series that ended on Sunday.

9½: Games by which the Twins (26-39) trail the first-place Cleveland Indians (35-29), who beat the New York Yankees 1-0 on Monday to avoid a sweep and snap a four-game skid. "We haven't done that in the past, but some teams do go through slumps like that," Twins veteran Michael Cuddyer said after Sunday's 6-1 win. "Unfortunately, we did, and we're still trying to continuously dig ourselves out of the hole."

13: Games the Twins have remaining against the Indians, who have lost four of five meetings so far this season. That includes four games in three days July 18 to 20 at Target Field and three other three-game series: Aug. 12 to 14, Sept. 16 to 18 and Sept. 23 to 25.

16: Games the Twins have remaining against the White Sox, who lost both meetings in Chicago last month.

Health watch

• After reviewing an MRI, a hand specialist confirmed the team's diagnosis of 1B Justin Morneau's sore left wrist -- fluid buildup, no structural damage. Morneau sat out the Twins' past three games and remains day-to-day.

• C Joe Mauer (leg weakness/general soreness) was 1-for-4 and scored a run in his latest rehabilitation start at catcher for Single-A Fort Myers. He's scheduled to face deposed closer Joe Nathan in a Wednesday batting-practice session and could rejoin the Twins by the end of the week.

• IF Tsuyoshi Nishioka (fractured fibula) was 2-for-3 with a walk in his second rehab start for Triple-A Rochester and could rejoin the Twins as soon as Tuesday. Activating Mauer or Nishioka would force the Twins to make a 40-man roster move, since both were on the 60-day disabled list.

• Nathan (elbow tenderness) threw fastballs and changeups against live hitters on Monday in Fort Myers, Fla., and said everything well. "I can definitely see more life on the ball now," Nathan said.

• DH Jim Thome (back, quadriceps soreness) also was scheduled to travel to Fort Myers on Monday to continue his rehabilitation.

• OF Denard Span (whiplash, concussion) wrote on Twitter that he is "feeling alright today. By far my best day in a while!" He remains on the 7-day disabled list.

• LHP Glen Perkins (oblique) is scheduled to throw two innings for Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday.

• OF Jason Kubel (sprained foot) feels fine in the batting cage, head athletic trainer Rick McWane said on Sunday, but still feels some soreness when running.

• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) threw off a mound in Fort Myers for the first time on Sunday.

On deck

The White Sox (33-35) enter Tuesday's series opener (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN Twin Cities) having won five of seven in consecutive home series against Seattle and Oakland. They're 17-18 on the road this season after going 43-38 in 2010 -- their best finish away from U.S. Cellular Field since they went 52-29 in 2005, when they won the World Series.

Right-hander Gavin Floyd (6-5, 3.89 ERA) has struck out 60, walked 20 and allowed nine home runs through 81 innings in 13 appearances (12 starts). The former No. 4 overall pick by Philadelphia in 2001, Floyd was traded to the White Sox along with Gio Gonzalez for pitcher Freddy Garcia in December 2006. He stumbled badly against the Twins last season, going 0-4 with an 8.18 ERA and allowing at least six earned runs in three of four starts. According to FanGraphs.com, Floyd's velocity is down, with his fastball averaging 91 mph, and he's throwing more curve and cutters than ever.

The Twins will counter with righty Carl Pavano (3-5, 4.54), who continued to show progress in his last outing on Wednesday at Cleveland, allowing one run over seven hits in seven innings. He has completed at least seven innings in five consecutive starts and has a 2.49 ERA in six outings since May 13. In nine career starts against the White Sox, Pavano is 6-3 with a 3.94 ERA. Since 2002, the Twins or White Sox have won the American League Central title in every season but one -- 2007, when Cleveland did it.

"Chicago is always a fun series," Cuddyer said. "You know they're always going to play you tough, and we play them tough. So, it's always exciting, it's fun seeing these two teams get together the past decade I've been here. It's always been great games."

Overheard

"We've just got to continue to play the way we play, one game at a time, just go out there and play hard. You never know in baseball, so we've got to go out there and keep playing."
-- Left-hander Francisco Liriano, following his flirtation with a perfect game in Sunday's win

Coming up

• Wednesday: vs. Chicago White Sox, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (5-4, 3.47) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (6-4, 3.95).
• Thursday: vs. Chicago White Sox, 12:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (3-6, 4.98) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (4-5, 4.39).
• Friday: vs. San Diego, 7:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (4-4, 3.55) vs. LHP Clayton Richard (2-8, 4.06).

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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