The American League Central division is a dead heat.

With their loss to Baltimore on Monday, the White Sox dropped into a tie with the Minnesota Twins.

The Detroit Tigers, 6-19 since the All-Star break, have gracefully bowed out of the race for the division, making it a two-team contest—two teams that competed in just such a race back in 2008.

After finishing tied at 88-74 in 2008, the White Sox and Twins needed a one-game playoff. Due to the bad luck of a coin toss, the game was played at US Cellular Field.

The game was decided in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Jim Thome led off the inning with a home run off of Nick Blackburn. It was one of only four hits that Blackburn would allow in seven and a third innings pitched.

Final score: White Sox 1, Twins 0.

Oh, how the worm has turned.

Thome is now hitting home runs for the Twins, and Blackburn has been dispatched to the Rochester Red Wings, the Twins’ triple-A affiliate.

Over the next 10 days, the Twins and White Sox will face each other six times. In the remaining 40 games of the 2010 campaign, they will meet only three more times.

It’s said that games within the division count as two—so that makes now the time for the Twins to put some distance between them and the White Sox.  

If the pitching rotations hold, the Twins will get their first look at the newest White Sox player, Edwin Jackson, who was acquired from Arizona at the trading deadline.

In return, Twins’ fans hope the White Sox get plenty of looks at Minnesota’s own trade deadline acquisition—All-Star closer Matt Capps, acquired from the Washington Nationals.   

The Twins hold the edge so far in 2010, having defeated the White Sox six times in nine games, including opening the second half of the season winning three of four at Target Field.

Since the break, the Twins have been the hottest team in the American League, going 17-6. They’ve won five of seven series, losing only one, while tying a four-game series against the Rays in Tampa Bay.

And they have done all this without MVP candidate Justin Morneau.

The Twins’ slump that dogged them a month ago seems to have ended with the break, and they looked primed for another strong second-half finish.  

Since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager, the Twins are 85-73 against Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox.

If the Twins can continue their hot streak as they head into Chicago, they could find themselves well on their way to Gardenhire’s sixth division championship in nine years.


Upcoming pitching probables:

Tuesday: Scott Baker (9-9, 4.70 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (10-4, 4.54 ERA)

Wednesday: TBD vs. Edwin Jackson (7-10, 4.97 ERA)

Thursday: Francisco Liriano (10-7, 3.33 ERA) vs. John Danks (11-8, 3.30 ERA)

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