Surging Santana set to take on White Sox

Surging Santana set to take on White Sox

The Minnesota Twins are playoff contenders, even after selling off pieces such as Jaime Garcia and Brandon Kintzler at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

In the time since that stretch, they've played baseball as well as anyone, including winning 13 of their last 17 to put themselves front and center for the second American League Wild Card spot.

The Twins will look to capitalize on their recent success as they take on the last-place White Sox on Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field. Ervin Santana will take the hill against White Sox right-hander James Shields in the fourth of a rare stretch of five games.

Santana is in the midst of perhaps his best season in a Twins uniform, leading the Majors in both complete games (five) and shutouts (three), while emerging as the club's ace. He's gone at least six innings in four of his last five outings, including three quality starts in four August performances. He ranks third in the American League in both wins (13) and opposing batting average (.220) while ranking sixth in ERA.

This will be Santana's third outing against the White Sox this season. He struggled a bit at Target Field on June 20, allowing six runs in five innings, but has been brilliant at points this season against the South Siders. He allowed two hits over six shutout innings his last time at Guaranteed Rate Field, and followed it with a one-hit shutout in his next start against Chicago.

Shields will be making his second start of the season against the Twins after allowing a run in six innings at Target Field on April 16. After posting a 9.00 ERA in July, Shields has turned things around with two quality starts in his last three outings. He allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings in his last start in Texas.

Three things to know about the game

• The White Sox will be hoping that rookie sensation Nicky Delmonico will keep up his hot start. Delmonico, who only briefly appeared in the White Sox list of top 30 prospects, per MLBPipeline.com, has reached base in 18 of the first 19 games of his career, and his six homers in his first 19 career games are the most in White Sox history.

• Santana's swinging-strike rate of five percent in his last start was his second-lowest mark this season, he made up for it with a 23 percent called-strike rate that was his third highest. Eleven of his 23 called strikes came on the first pitch.

• Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has been one of baseball's best second-half hitters, as he entered Tuesday with the fourth-most homers in the Majors after the All-Star break with 13. His 41 second-half homers over the last two seasons are the most in baseball by far.

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.