When the White Sox last faced the Twins in June, the South Siders were swept away in four games during a rough eight-game losing streak. Both clubs will clash once again on Thursday night in the opener of another four-game meeting at Target Field, with Chicago turning an eye towards vaulting itself back into the division race.
The matchup will feature a pair of up-and-down pitchers in the Twins' Phil Hughes and the White Sox Hector Noesi.
Hughes claims a string of unimpressive performances dating back to his last time pitching against the White Sox, a winning effort despite allowing five runs over five innings. Across that start and the five outings since, the right-hander has posted a 6.34 ERA and seen his season ERA rise from 3.09 to 4.06.
Hughes' last time on the hill was similarly poor, as he gave up five runs on 11 hits over seven innings against the Rays on Saturday.
"I knew right off the bat that I didn't have much," Hughes said. "I battled as best I could. I didn't have really much to work with."
"I'll continue to try to make adjustments out there and not get too hard-headed out there with what I feel most comfortable with."
Noesi has been little better in July, posting a 5.64 ERA and walking 14 batters over his last four outings. He allowed four runs over seven innings in his last start vs. the Twins, and he received a no-decision.
With the South Siders now sitting in fourth place in the American League Central and playing the role of an inconsistent team as opposed to a contending one, questions regarding how the team plans to address the upcoming non-waiver Trade Deadline -- perhaps as sellers -- are already beginning to arise.
"[The players] are aware of it," manager Robin Ventura said of the trade rumors. "They're aware of what's going on. You see other guys getting traded from other teams, so you're aware of it. So whether you're consciously thinking about it or subconsciously, it's there for everybody whose name has been brought up or popped up somewhere."
White Sox: Viciedo misses finale with Royals
Dayan Viciedo wound up a late scratch from Wednesday's starting lineup due to tightness in his hamstring. Outfielder Moises Sierra got the starting nod in his absence.
Viciedo's status for Thursday's tilt with the Twins is uncertain. The 25-year-old corner outfielder has hit .236 with 12 homers and 19 doubles in his third full season with Chicago.
Twins: Gibson could return Saturday
Kyle Gibson was forced to miss his regularly scheduled start on Wednesday after dealing with back stiffness. But with the right-hander already beginning to feel less discomfort, the Twins believe that he could pitch as early as Saturday.
With lefty Kris Johnson optioned down to the Minors after Monday's start, Gibson (8-8, 4.19 ERA) would have an open spot to fill in the rotation as long as the injury improves over the next couple of days.
"We're hoping Saturday," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's our plan for him to start Saturday, but that's only if it works out. We'll go day to day with him until that day comes up. Friday will be a big day for us for him to run around a little bit and tell us."
• The White Sox are 16-9 when Jose Abreu hits a home run and 4-0 when he turns in a multi-homer performance. Abreu has gone yard 29 times in 87 games this year.
• Minnesota right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who has been sidelined since July 6 after straining his pitching elbow, has been taking part in long toss and is set to throw a bullpen session on Sunday. The team has not determined whether Nolasco will go on a rehab assignment.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.