It's no secret that wins came few and far between for the Twins last year -- especially when it came to playing the rival White Sox.
Yet the Twins are off to a much better start in 2013, both overall and against Chicago. A victory on Tuesday night would be Minnesota's fourth against the White Sox in as many tries this season and would match last season's total.
The White Sox dominated the 2012 season series, winning 14 of 18 meetings, and never allowing the Twins to notch more than one victory in any of the six three-game sets played between the clubs. It's been a much different story this time around, as Minnesota swept a two-game set in Chicago earlier this season and won Monday's series opener at Target Field.
"You play these teams 18 times and they're in your division and division games mean a lot," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've had some good rivalries over the years with these guys. We played them early at their place this year, but they've added some pitchers. So it'll be interesting to see how we do here at home. We're playing better baseball recently."
The Twins have won five of their last seven games overall to move back above .500 at 18-17, just 2 1/2 games behind the American League Central-leading Tigers.
They will look to continue that success on Tuesday when they send right-hander Kevin Correia to the mound to face the only Major League team he has never pitched against in his 11-year career.
Correia will be countered by White Sox starter Jake Peavy, who has seen the Twins plenty in just the last year alone. Peavy went 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts against the Twins in 2012 and, earlier this season, earned a no-decision on April 20 while pitching seven innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 loss.
More recently, Peavy returned with a solid outing against the Mets on Wednesday after missing his previously scheduled start due to back spasms. He came through the outing pain-free, while allowing just one run and three hits over 6 2/3 innings for his fourth victory of the season.
The White Sox could use another quality start from Peavy as they find themselves alone in last place in the AL Central, marking the latest in the season they've held that distinction since Sept. 20, 2007.
"Seems whenever we play those guys they're hard-fought games, whether they're good or we're good," Twins catcher Joe Mauer said. "It's a battle, so we're not expecting anything different."
White Sox: Konerko expected to return after rest day
• Slumping first baseman Paul Konerko is expected to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday after receiving a scheduled day off in Monday's series opener.
Manager Robin Ventura insisted the day off was a planned rest day for the 37-year-old slugger and had nothing to do with Konerko's slow start. The Sox captain went 1-for-10 in the club's weekend series against the Angels, dropping his season average to .214.
"It was more scheduled than anything else," Ventura said on Monday. "He knew he was going to get one at some point. I guess getting in here late, it just made sense that today was the time."
Twins: Mauer looking to stay hot at the plate
• With his 1-for-2, three-walk performance Monday, Mauer extended his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest by any Twins player this season. The backstop is hitting .447 (21-for-47) with 10 doubles and five RBIs during that stretch.
"[I'm] just putting together good at bats and seeing pitches and putting good swings on it," Mauer said of the streak.
His career-long hitting streak is 16 games, which he achieved Aug. 4-24, 2008.
• Minnesota outfielder Josh Willingham is a lifetime .056 (1-for-18) hitter with five strikeouts against Peavy.
• Mauer is a .319 lifetime hitter against the White Sox and has hit more home runs (14) against them than any other team.