Over two months ago, Logan Darnell made a flawless big league debut against the Indians. On Saturday, he'll look to achieve similar success against another divisional opponent in what will be his first career start.
Originally, the Twins had hoped for hobbled starter Kyle Gibson to take the mound in the third of four games against the White Sox. But with Gibson's stiff back still bothering him, they will turn to Darnell, whose lone appearance of the season saw him toss three perfect innings of relief for the Twins against Cleveland on May 6.
"He's had a little taste of this thing," general manager Terry Ryan said. "I'm hoping that will benefit him out there. He's been at Triple-A [Rochester] here. He's had some success here and I can't get out of my mind what he did against Cleveland in that three-inning stint. He's capable of doing that. He's certainly capable of being able to pitch up here."
Darnell has spent the remainder of his season as a rotation regular at Rochester, compiling a 3.43 ERA to go along with 73 strikeouts in 94 1/3 innings. The young southpaw was recalled after the Twins' 9-5 loss to the White Sox on Friday. Infielder Jorge Polanco was optioned to Double-A New Britain to open up a roster spot.
Darnell will have a tall task on his hands in opposing left-hander Chris Sale, who turned in his seventh consecutive quality start with a seven-inning, one-run performance against the Royals on Monday.
Sale has been similarly dominant in a 2014 campaign that features 110 strikeouts to 17 walks over 15 starts. He has not seen the Twins since March 31, when he allowed three runs on just five hits over 7 1/3 innings, but his teammates rightfully are not concerned about Sale against any opponent.
"All the good teams have a legitimate ace," said White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn. "Not only are they good, but once every five days, you have a really good chance to win, and that's the kind of pitcher he is."
White Sox: Deadline could go either way
With the club entering Friday a full 10 games back in its division, many might presume the team to be a seller as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline inches closer. But manager Robin Ventura believes the White Sox will not necessarily go that route considering they are also within five games of the second Wild Card berth.
Ventura further asserted that his club could remain in contention because of its strong starting rotation.
"If you get some outings like [Hector] Noesi had yesterday and you throw in Johnny [John Danks], [Chris] Sale and Q [Jose Quintana], you have a chance to do that," Ventura said. "I think any time you have a staff like that, you're going to be in some games and you can [make a run]. You've got to be able to pitch to stay in games, and we've got some guys who can do that."
Twins: Still no live hitting for Mauer
While there remains no concrete timetable in place for Joe Mauer's return from the disabled list, the Twins' first baseman did swing at some soft-toss pitches ahead of Friday's game at Target Field. He also continued to work in the cages and take grounders at first.
Mauer, 31, has not played since hitting the DL on July 2 with a strained right oblique. The Twins again noted that they will not have a firm idea of when the former American League MVP could begin a possible rehab assignment until he starts seeing live pitching.
"I'm just going through the hitting progression," Mauer said.
• White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton has a hit in 11 of his last 12 games, including four doubles and a triple. He is batting .388 over that span.
• Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe is 11-for-29 (.379) over his last eight games against the White Sox this season.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.