As the Chicago White Sox inch closer to the franchise's first postseason berth since 2008, the anticipation level in the clubhouse is growing alongside those playoff hopes.
"I mean, it's completely opposite of what we've been," Chicago reliever Jace Fry said. "I come to the ballpark and expect to win, even against the best teams in the division or the league."
So far this week, the American League Central-leading White Sox have helped Fry's premonitions hold up. Chicago defeated Minnesota 3-1 on Monday, then 6-2 on Tuesday, to extend its division lead over the Twins to three games. The White Sox enter Wednesday's contest with 22 wins in their past 27 games and armed with plenty of confidence.
Fry can attest.
"We just hit," he said. "Every level of our lineup, we are hitting,and it's kind of that next man up in the order. We put so much pressure on the other team, day in and day out. ...
"We have so much talent in the clubhouse. It's the most talent I've seen. We are just doing what we're supposed to do."
Chicago (32-16) has surged to the best record in the AL. The White Sox, who have won 14 of 15 at Guaranteed Rate Field, lead the AL in multiple offensive categories, including batting average (.275), home runs (80) and OPS (.811).
On Wednesday, Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi will try to curb the White Sox's offense as he comes off the injured list to make the start.
Odorizzi (0-1, 8.10 ERA) hasn't pitched since sustaining a chest contusion in Kansas City on Aug. 21. He threw about 80 pitches over five innings Friday during a simulated game at the Twins' alternate training site.
Odorizzi has not faced Chicago this season and is 3-4 with a 3.20 ERA in 10 career starts against the White Sox with 74 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings.
The Twins came to Chicago with 10 wins in their past 12 games but have fallen short in the first two games of the series.
"Right now, I want to win the division as bad as anybody else does," Minnesota bench coach Mike Bell said. "Hopefully, we're fortunate enough to be in that playoff format, and I think anything can happen. But you see a banner hanging up in a stadium and to realize that you were some small part of it, there's pride in that, and I think that's important."
Minnesota rested infielder Marwin Gonzalez on Tuesday after he was scratched due to an illness -- not COVID-19 related -- before Monday's game.
"I don't think he's going to miss very much time," manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Regulars Miguel Sano (neck) and Eddie Rosario (left elbow) returned to the lineup Tuesday, but they went a combined 0-for-7.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito (4-2, 3.43 ERA) is set to start for the White Sox. In 12 career starts against Minnesota, Giolito is 4-6 with a 5.21 ERA, including 0-1 with a 9.35 ERA in two starts this season.
Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson went 3-for-5 with a home run on Tuesday, his fifth game this month with at least three hits.