A weekend sweep of the San Francisco Giants has the up-and-down Chicago White Sox feeling good about themselves again.
Considering the stretch ahead of the defending American League Central champions, the surge in confidence couldn't come at a better time.
The White Sox are set to open a three-game series with the visiting Minnesota Twins on Monday to begin a sequence of 15 division games in 14 days heading into the All-Star break. Seven of those come against the Central-leading Twins, who enter the week with a two-game lead on the Cleveland Guardians and a 4 1/2 -game edge on the White Sox.
''Big time,'' Chicago outfielder Adam Engel said. ''Division games are big. When this team is playing good baseball, it doesn't matter who we're playing, we have a good chance to win. We just have to keep playing good ball.''
Since losing four of seven games on its most recent homestand, Chicago has reversed course, winning four of six during a trip to Anaheim and San Francisco.
After edging the Giants by one and two runs, respectively, to start the clubs' interleague weekend series, the White Sox thumped San Francisco 13-4 on Sunday to move to one game under .500.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito yielded three hits in six innings of one-run ball while six players enjoyed multi-hit games. Leury Garcia went 3-for-5 and scored three runs. Catcher Seby Zavala also was 3-for-5 and drove in three.
''We came to play this series,'' Giolito said. ''This is the brand of baseball the Chicago White Sox are all about. It's been a rough year, to say the least, dealing with injuries and some tough series and losing streaks. This series, we were able to put our foot on the gas.''
Now, the goal is to keep going.
''We have to get busy before the All-Star break,'' infielder Josh Harrison said. ''(The Twins) are our next opponent, so they're the most important. Whoever is after them is the most important. We took care of the Giants this weekend, and with the Twins coming in, we have to take care of them.''
Minnesota was unable to complete a three-game sweep of visiting Baltimore over the weekend, losing Sunday's series finale 3-1 after earning a pair of one-run victories to open the series.
The Twins benefited from walk-off winners both times, but managed just four hits Sunday. A Nick Gordon double was the club's lone hit for extra bases.
"Our pitchers kept us in the ballgame (Sunday) and really the entire homestand," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "They gave us chances to win even when we didn't put runs up early. In those big moments, we came through a couple times."
Twins right-hander Dylan Bundy (4-4, 4.71 ERA) is set to oppose White Sox counterpart Johnny Cueto (2-4, 3.33 ERA).
Bundy has excelled against the White Sox in his career, going 5-0 with a 3.46 ERA in seven career appearances, including six starts. That includes an April 23 win against visiting Chicago, when Bundy scattered four hits and four strikeouts in five scoreless innings.
Cueto has been even more impressive in three career starts against Minnesota, going 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three starts with 21 strikeouts in 20 innings.
--Field Level Media