CHICAGO — With six weeks remaining in the regular season, the Minnesota Twins find themselves in the thick of the American League playoff race. The Chicago White Sox, meanwhile, are reduced to playing the spoiler role.
The Twins enter their Monday doubleheader against the White Sox having won four straight after sweeping three from the Arizona Diamondbacks, capped by 12-5 victory on Sunday when the Twins scored nine runs in the first inning.
Now, they are looking to extend their winning streak with a five-game series against the White Sox, who have won just two of their last eight games. The Twins will be without third baseman Miguel Sano, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday due to a stress fracture in his left tibia.
“I really don’t know how it is going to proceed,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said Sunday, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I think given the situation, dealing with the information that was passed on from our staff, was that they are concerned enough to feel that they need to get him off of his feet for a little bit.”
Kennys Vargas will replace Sano on the roster after he was removed from his game with Triple-A Rochester on Sunday.
Right-hander Tim Melville will be called up to start one of the Monday games for the Twins after spending the season at Rochester. In his past eight Triple-A starts, Melville has recorded a 2.42 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 15 walks in 49 innings. Overall, he is 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 11 games (10 starts).
His lone major league action came last year with the Cincinnati Reds, and he went 0-1 with an 11.00 ERA in three games (two starts). Melville, 27, has never faced the White Sox.
Twins right-hander Dillon Gee (0-0, 3.16 ERA) will make his second start of the season after working primarily out of the bullpen. As of Sunday, Molitor had not yet decided who would start which game of the doubleheader.
The White Sox return home after finishing a 2-3 road trip. Chicago held on for a 3-2 win against the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Carlos Rodon (1-4, 4.00 ERA) will open the series against the Twins on the mound for the White Sox, who will call up right-hander Carson Fulmer from Triple-A Charlotte to pitch the Monday nightcap.
Rodon will make his first start against the Twins this season. The left-hander is 3-2 against Minnesota lifetime.
Fulmer will make his initial major league start, and first big-league appearance of the season. He is taking the place of Reynaldo Lopez, who landed on the 10-day disabled list Saturday after straining his back in his Thursday start against the Rangers.
Manager Rick Renteria told reporters Sunday that he expects Fulmer only to make one start before he returns to the minors, but Fulmer could return to the big-league club in September.
Fulmer, 23, was projected as a starter when he was drafted in 2015, but worked exclusively as a reliever for Chicago last season, going 0-2 with an 8.49 ERA in eight appearances. He opposed the Twins once, allowing a run in 1 2/3 innings on July 31, 2016.
In 24 starts this year at Triple-A, Fulmer is 7-8 with a 5.64 ERA, 95 strikeouts and 63 walks in 122 innings.
Renteria said Fulmer has worked to slow down his delivery to eliminate some of the inconsistencies with his performance. Now, Fulmer will help try to help slow down the surging Twins.
“He’s worked on it — seemingly the numbers aren’t really playing to that right now, but this kid’s pretty determined to do what he needs to do in order to become a better and more accomplished major league pitcher,” Renteria said Sunday. “It’s just continually evolving. I think he’s going to be OK.”
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