When the White Sox take the Target Field diamond for Saturday's game against Minnesota, the last-place Chicago squad will have a chance to do something it hasn't done in nearly two months: secure a non-losing series for two sets in a row.
After taking two of three from Detroit during the week and losing the opener in Minnesota, the Sox responded with a win on Friday night behind home runs from Adam Dunn and Jeff Keppinger, snapping a 10-game road losing skid and getting a little revenge on the Twins.
Minnesota nabbed three out of four from the White Sox last week in Chicago, but now the visiting Sox have things at even going into the weekend portion of a four-game set.
Chicago ace Chris Sale will take the mound Saturday against Twins up-and-comer Andrew Albers.
Sale is 8-11 this season with a 2.73 ERA. He last saw the Twins on June 19 and gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings. He also struck out five.
In his last outing, Monday against the Tigers, Sale pitched a complete game and gave up just two runs on nine hits, with six strikeouts, for the win.
Though the White Sox have rounded into decent form over the past dozen days, their last-place standing in the division could mean Chicago might soon be looking to rest some starters.
"It's been talked about a little -- some," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It depends on how September is and who we bring up, seeing who we're going to look at. It is possible there could be another guy thrown in there every once in a while. ... It depends on who those guys are."
The Twins, meanwhile, are headed to an October vacation for the third straight year, the longest string of postseason absences for the franchise during this millennium.
Hope comes in the form of future studs like Albers, a lefty, who has been sensational in his first two starts.
"I would pay to come and see him," said Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan. "I'm not going to, but I would."
Albers has yet to give up a run and has pitched into the ninth inning in both starts, including a shutout against the Indians in his last outing. The 27-year-old, who was pitching in independent ball just a few years ago, already has the longest scoreless streak to start a career by a Twins starter in team history.
This time around, he'll have an opposing ace to deal with, as Sale's losing record belies another impressive season.
"[Albers] is going up against one of the best pitchers in the game," Ryan said. "They're both left-handed, going to head to head, and we're going to see who comes out on top. One throws 96 [mph] and the other throws 86. Albers does it one way, and Sale does it another."
Albers is also just one of six pitchers in Major League history to throw at least eight shutout innings in each of their first two games, and the first to do it since Tom Phoebus in 1966.
Twins: Doumit gets a hit in return
Though the Twins dropped Friday's series opener, they got a starter back in the lineup. Minnesota activated catcher Ryan Doumit from the seven-day concussion disabled list on Friday and optioned first baseman Chris Colabello to Triple-A Rochester to make room for him on the roster. Doumit started at designated hitter and went 1-for-4 while batting in the No. 5 hole against Chicago.
Doumit sustained a concussion when he took a foul tip off his facemask on Aug. 4. He was placed on the DL soon after with concussion-like symptoms. Doumit tried to catch against the Royals on Aug. 7 but departed the game with nausea.
He caught in the bullpen and took batting practice at Target Field without any issues on Wednesday before passing an ImPACT concussion test. The paperwork from the test was sent to Major League Baseball and it was approved by the league as part of MLB's concussion policy.
"It's nice to get Doumit back because he's been champing at the bit to get back here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He did everything yesterday from blocking balls in the dirt, bullpen sessions, taking BP and running around the bases."
White Sox: Friday a rare break from close losses
The White Sox weren't in a close game on Friday, thanks to a pair of two-run innings early, and it was probably a strong factor in their 5-2 triumph.
Thursday night's 4-3 walk-off Minnesota win marked Chicago's 27th loss by a one-run margin.
The White Sox are 18-27 in one-run games and 10-15 in two-run decisions. Ten of their last 15 games have been decided by one or two runs -- nine by one run, one by two runs -- and they went 4-6 in those games.
• The last time Chicago won consecutive series was nearly three months ago, when the White Sox took series against Boston and Miami from May 20-26.
• This series against Chicago is the fourth in a string of seven straight sets against American League Central competition for Minnesota.
Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.