The Twins were outscored 23-6 in an ugly sweep by the White Sox the first time they faced their top division rival this season, but they have at least two big reasons to be optimistic about a better result when the teams meet again this weekend:
Shannon Stewart and Luis Castillo.
The top two hitters in the order were missing from the lineup the entire weekend series in Chicago, and those were the Twins' hottest hitters at the time.
Stewart was home in Miami for the birth of his first child. Castillo was nursing a knee injury he aggravated two days before the series started.
"Hopefully, it's a little different story now," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Hopefully, we'll compete a lot better."
Gardenhire tried to assure that by giving both players an extra, precautionary day of rest before Thursday's scheduled off day so they would be as close to full strength as possible for the four-game series that opens Friday.
Stewart, who battled the flu early this week, could have played Wednesday. Castillo, who aggravated the same knee injury in Tuesday's game, could have played if absolutely necessary Wednesday. But Gardenhire wanted to take no chances heading into the most critical series of the Twins' young season.
"We didn't have our lineup in there. We were kind of beat up at the time," he said of the disappointing showing the first time around. "We weren't swinging well. We were struggling in a lot of spots in the middle part of the lineup."
NOTES, QUOTES:CF Torii Hunter is the Twins' hottest hitter heading into the important four-game series against the White Sox. After hitting .189 on April, Hunter is batting .459 (17 for 37) through 10 games in May with two homers and 10 RBIs. The streak coincides with Hunter's move from fifth in the batting order to cleanup on May 1. He has raised his season average to .268.DH Rondell White takes a seven-game hitting streak into this weekend's series, hitting .296 (8 for 27) during the streak with his first two-hit game (Wednesday) since April 23. After hitting .143 in April, White is hitting .267 in May.RHP Kyle Lohse found success Wednesday, allowing one run in six innings at Texas after entering with a 9.71 ERA. The secret? He said pitching coach Rick Anderson had him stand closer to the first base side of the pitching rubber to better help him locate outside pitches to right-handed hitters. "It's kind of amazing how just a little thing like that can affect your control to certain parts of the plate," he said.The Twins are 2-10 against division opponents on the road but 3-2 against them at home as they prepare to face the division-leading White Sox in a four-game weekend series at the Metrodome.Manager Ron Gardenhire on using Thursday's off day to shuffle his starting rotation and put ace LHP Johan Santana on the mound for the opener of this weekend's key four-game series against Chicago: "The first one is always a very important ballgame of the series. It's not do or die, but it's always a very important ballgame. He loves to pitch against them. You want to get the series started off right."