Chicago White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez has performed beyond expectations in his first five starts -- which is saying something considering the team's lofty hopes for the hard-throwing 24-year-old.
Yet Lopez (0-2, 1.78 ERA) cannot seem to buy a victory. He will get another chance Thursday night when the White Sox open a four-game series against the visiting Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field.
"I'm always trying to improve, I'm always trying to make adjustments," Lopez said recently to NBC Sports Chicago. "If I had a good outing, what I did in that outing, what I can do better for the next one. I'm always trying to improve and to find ways to get better. I think that's the only way you can be successful at this level."
Lopez has yet to face the Twins in 24 career appearances (19 starts). He has a 0.75 ERA at home this season, allowing one run on six hits in 12 innings.
Chicago (8-20) could use a strong performance from Lopez, not to mention a few timely hits. The White Sox have lost four games in a row, with each of their past three losses coming by one run apiece.
Minnesota (10-16) has fared slightly better but also needs a strong weekend series to avoid falling farther back in the AL Central. The Twins have lost 11 of 13 but are coming off a 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon.
"One day does not guarantee how we're going to move forward," Minnesota manager Molitor said to reporters after the game. "You like to be encouraged by it. Some of the things we haven't done showed up better today."
The Twins will go for their second straight win behind right-hander Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 3.94 ERA), who grew up downstate of the White Sox in New Douglas, Ill. The 28-year-old earned a victory in his last outing against the Cincinnati Reds on April 28, allowing one run on five hits in six innings.
In three career starts against Chicago, Odorizzi is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA. He has walked four and struck out 19 in 18 innings. His most recent matchup against the White Sox took place last year, when he allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The White Sox could be without second baseman Yoan Moncada, who left Wednesday's game because of tightness in his left hamstring. Moncada also bruised his right foot by fouling a pitch off of it during the game.
"If I feel good (Thursday), I'll be ready to play," Moncada told the team's official website. "I want to play."
Meanwhile, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton will accompany the team to Chicago but still has not returned to running since sustaining a hairline fracture in his left big toe April 22. The talented 24-year-old has appeared in only 11 games this season, hitting .195 with two RBIs.
Minnesota veteran Joe Mauer will look to stay hot after a two-hit performance in Wednesday's win over Toronto. Mauer, 35, is hitting .295 with one homer and eight RBIs in 25 games this season. He is No. 7 in franchise history with 2,012 hits, which is only 13 hits of surpassing Harmon Killebrew (2,024) for sixth place.