After splitting a four-game weekend set in Seattle, the Boston Red Sox return to work Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
The Red Sox went into their off day on Monday just a half-game behind the New York Yankees, but they have won six of their last nine games thanks to a starting rotation that has been among the best in baseball during the last two weeks.
Chris Sale will look to keep that going Tuesday when he takes the mound for his 16th start of the season. The left-hander snapped a three-start losing streak his last time out, allowing just a run in six innings of a 5-1 victory over Baltimore.
Sale had allowed 10 runs in 10 1/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros on May 27 and June 1, respectively. He rebounded by holding the Chicago White Sox to a run in eight innings while striking out two on June 8 in a 1-0 Red Sox loss before getting back in the win column against the Orioles.
"I have a good rhythm and tempo going for me right now," said Sale, who has held opponents to no more than a run in nine starts this season. "I'm feeling good. That's the way I like it."
He's 10-6 with a 4.21 ERA in 26 career appearances (18 starts) against the Twins, who also had Monday off after a 3-3 road trip that saw them drop two of three to the Detroit Tigers and take two of three from the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians.
They'll begin the day third in the division, five games behind Cleveland and 2 1/2 behind Detroit.
"It was a good series win (in Cleveland)," third baseman Eduardo Escobar said. "We'll be ready Tuesday for another series at home. This team will be OK. We go out there and play hard every day, but sometimes you have to give credit to the other pitchers."
The Twins will turn to their own budding ace for the series opener.
Right-hander Jose Berrios is 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA in his last six starts. He has allowed more than two runs just once during that stretch and has struck out 51 while walking only 12 in 43 2/3 innings, including 24 strikeouts with two walks in his last three outings.
Berrios took no-decision his last time out. He held the Tigers to a run, seven hits and a walk while striking out seven in six innings, but the Twins' offense and bullpen couldn't get the job done in a 5-2 loss.
"He threw a hell of a game," reliever Addison Reed said afterward. "That was fun to watch. He works his tail off, and it shows when he's out there. The thing that I'm most (upset) about tonight is not getting him the 'W.'"
Berrios has one previous career start against the Red Sox. He allowed four runs and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings of a 4-1 loss at Fenway Park last season.
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