MINNEAPOLIS — If the Minnesota Twins are to complete a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox in Thursday afternoon’s series finale, they will need a much different Nik Turley to step onto the mound than the one seen in his first two major league starts.
Turley (0-1, 12.46 ERA) has struggled, allowing 12 earned runs on 17 hits in 8 2/3 innings against San Francisco and Cleveland. He allowed eight runs on nine hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings against the Indians on June 16.
“You can’t defend walk, walk, homer,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said after the Cleveland start. “That’s what gets you. … It got out of control in a hurry.”
The 27-year-old left-hander, signed by the Twins as a minor league free agent in the offseason, is running out of chances with the return of fellow lefty Hector Santiago from the disabled list looming on the horizon.
Thursday’s start marks Turley’s first appearance facing the White Sox.
The White Sox collected just four hits in scoring a pair of runs off Twins starter Jose Berrios in a 4-2 loss Wednesday, and they must take advantage of the Twins’ inexperienced starter to avoid suffering a fifth straight loss to Minnesota.
Chicago starter Jose Quintana would certainly appreciate the support.
The left-handed Quintana snapped a seven-start winless streak in his last outing on June 16, which was largely due to his receiving the lowest run support (2.65 per game) of any major league starter to that point.
Quintana (3-8, 5.07) was relieved after allowing Toronto just two runs and five hits in seven innings of an 11-4 Chicago win.
“Every time is good when you get a lot of (run) support,” Quintana said. “Wow, it was a lot of runs, though. I needed that outing to get my confidence high again.”
Quintana is 6-8 with a 4.28 ERA in 20 career starts against Minnesota but is 0-4 in his last four starts against the Twins.
Twins first baseman Joe Mauer, who sat out Wednesday’s game, is batting .318 with a pair of home runs in 44 at-bats against Quintana. Brian Dozier is batting just .224 but has four home runs in 11 career hits off the Chicago lefty.
Quintana must count on players such as Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu to rebound after both players saw eight-game hitting streaks end Wednesday.
Chicago slugger Avisail Garcia remains hot, entering the game 5-for-8 in the series, with three RBIs, a double and a home run.
Minnesota’s win over Chicago on Wednesday, combined with Cleveland’s 5-1 win over Baltimore, leaves the Twins 1 1/2 games behind the Indians for the American League Central lead.
Minnesota hopes to cut that lead to a half-game while the White Sox are looking for a win to help vault them past Detroit and out of the division cellar.
To do so, Chicago must snap a four-game losing streak to the Twins, who have won seven of 10 meetings in 2017.
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