After batting .213 with 29 strikeouts in April, Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has found his hitting stroke in May.
Abreu's two-hit, three-RBI night Wednesday helped spur Chicago to a 13-8 victory against the visiting Minnesota Twins. Abreu raised his May average to .313, and he even zoomed around the bases with a first-inning RBI triple.
The reigning American League MVP will look to keep going Thursday as the first-place White Sox aim for a three-game series sweep of the defending American League Central champs.
Rediscovering an attentive eye at the plate has been key for Abreu.
"There was some stuff going on with his bat path that he wasn't feeling," White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino said of Abreu's April struggles.
"Now he's starting to really pay attention to staying on the fastball and reacting to off-speed stuff. He's starting to get his mechanics back, and he's starting to get his timing back. He's starting to relax and he's starting to get into the groove. The guy never stops working.
"Sometimes it's our job to slow him down or challenge him, 'If you're going to work, let's work, let's do it this way, let's do it that way.' ... It's my job sometimes to just keep everybody calm and just put them on a straight path and be in his corner."
Menechino apparently has helped spark other White Sox bats lately. Chicago has won five straight and scored at least nine runs in five of the past seven games.
Minnesota, meanwhile, has lost three in a row and six of seven. The Twins need a win Thursday to avoid falling 10 games behind the division-leading White Sox.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli called it a matter of not getting timely hitting and good pitching at the same time.
"We haven't matched it up the way we want," Baldelli said after the Wednesday defeat. "We were able to go up there and we stayed at it all day offensively. You look right through the lineup and there were some guys that went out there and collected multiple hits, and some good swings."
Minnesota general manager Thad Levine acknowledged his disappointment over the team's slow start, though he said it's too early to consider an overhaul to the roster and focusing on 2022.
"I just don't think we're there yet," Levine said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The Twins weren't sure about shortstop Andrelton Simmons' status for the series finale. He was pulled from the Wednesday game due to right ankle inflammation, and Baldelli said Simmons is day-to-day.
Right-hander Michael Pineda (2-1, 2.43 ERA) will try to play the stopper role for the Twins.
Pineda has yielded more than two runs in just one of six starts this season. He is coming off a May 6 no-decision against the Texas Rangers, when he scattered two runs and six hits in six innings with one walk and five strikeouts.
Pineda is 5-3 with a 3.21 ERA in nine career starts against the White Sox.
Chicago righty Lance Lynn (3-1, 1.52 ERA), who made 20 starts for the Twins in 2018, will get the call against his former team as he moves up in the rotation. Lefty Carlos Rodon initially was to start, but he was moved back to Saturday as he contends with tightness in his right hamstring and back.
In one career start against the Twins, in 2019, Lynn allowed three runs and four hits in five innings with five walks and three strikeouts.
Josh Donaldson had three hits and three RBIs for Minnesota on Wednesday, while Jorge Polanco singled twice for his fourth successive multi-hit game.
Yasmani Grandal has homered in consecutive games for Chicago.
--Field Level Media
|Chi. White Sox||21-13||W5||11-6||10-7||2-2||12-6||6-4||1-1|
|Minnesota||Chi. White Sox|
|5/12/21||MIN 8||CHW 13||.342||1||.864||.368||2||1.152|