The White Sox expected the defending American League champion Kansas City Royals and Central Division power Detroit Tigers to be their main rivals.
But the Minnesota Twins have come on strong — especially against the Sox.
“They’ve been tough on us,’’ manager Robin Ventura said of the Twins, who have a 7-3 record against the Sox. “They’ve been knocking us around pretty good, so we have to find a way to change it.
“They’ve been playing well. They had it when we were up there earlier. Offensively, they have a tough lineup to get through, and they’re able to mix and match.
“We just need to find a way to scratch across a couple of runs and make it a clean game.’’
The Sox are 12-19 against the Central, a formula for failure if it continues.
“Kansas City has experience,’’ center fielder Adam Eaton said. “Minnesota has a lot of veteran guys, too. The more experience you have, the better. But we have plenty of experienced guys, too. It’s only a matter of time before we get it going. When you pitch it, catch it and hit it, good things will happen.’’
Jose Abreu is the Sox’ home-run leader with seven and RBI leader with 23, and his 17-game hitting streak, which ended Saturday, was the second-longest in the majors.
But his home-run pace has slowed compared to last season, with pitchers being more cautious against him.
“He’s gotten into that category where [pitchers] give their best stuff when he comes up,’’ Ventura said. “He’s going to see the guy’s best slider or curveball, their best fastball running him in. You have to be in an elite category to earn that, and he’s earned that.’’
Avisail Garcia returned Sunday after missing two games with inflammation in his right knee. He singled in his first at-bat.
On the road
The Sox begin a difficult stretch Monday, playing 16 of their next 23 games on the road against non-Central Division foes.
The trek starts with an 11-game trip, including a makeup doubleheader Thursday in Baltimore.
The Sox are 7-12 on the road overall but went 5-1 on the their last trip to Milwaukee and Oakland.
“Hopefully, we’re over that hump or stigma that we can’t win on the road,’’ Ventura said. “I think we’re all right going on the road. It’s a rough trip, though, and we’ll have to play well.’’
“It’s a tough road trip for us, but at the end of the road, sometimes good things happen,’’ Eaton said.
Hawk to miss road trip
TV broadcaster Ken Harrelson will miss the road trip to undergo a minor surgical procedure. Bulls radio play-by-play man Chuck Swirsky will take his place.
The Sox have been outscored 34-13 in the first inning.
The Sox hit .196 (44-for-224) during the seven-game homestand.