MINNEAPOLIS — The pitching staff is well rested.
The power has returned.
Now can the White Sox finally put some meaningful distance between themselves and the Tigers when they meet Monday at U.S. Cellular Field in their final head-to-head matchup of the regular season?
“We’re trying to win this thing ourselves and not have to win or have (Detroit) lose for us,” Jake Peavy said after pitching six innings of four-hit ball Sunday to help lead the Sox to a 9-2 win over the Twins to complete a three-game sweep. “It’s certainly nice when that happens, but Detroit is not going (away).
“We have a big one (Monday), and I hope fans come out to the Cell. There’s going to be a lot of emotion. We have our hands full, but we feel we could get it done.”
Thanks to home runs by Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo during a sixth-run sixth inning and Peavy’s effort, the Sox are in the best shape possible as they try to extend their lead to three games over the Tigers, who lost 7-6 to the Indians on Sunday.
Dunn, in his second game since returning from a right oblique strain that sidelined him for seven consecutive games, belted his first home run since Aug. 24, increasing his season total to 39 — his most since slugging 40 for the Reds in 2007.
The homer off Scott Diamond was Dunn’s 15th against a left-hander after hitting none off lefties in 2011.
“It seemed to work out perfectly,” Dunn said. “Obviously, we don’t have an off day, but the good thing is I feel I’m going to be in there (Monday). That’s what I wanted. I wanted to play against (the Tigers) and for the rest of the season.”
Viciedo cranked a two-run shot that landed in the upper deck in left field and knocked out Diamond.
The home runs increased the Sox’s season total to 192, but manager Robin Ventura has been more impressed recently with the revival of clutch hitting by means other than homers.
Kevin Youkilis had two hits with runners in scoring position, Dewayne Wise hit two sacrifice flies and Viciedo delivered an RBI double in the fourth after Alex Rios stole second after getting picked off.
The six-run sixth came shortly after Peavy stranded Alexi Casilla at second by retiring three consecutive batters while left-hander Donnie Veal warmed up.
Veal wasn’t used until the eighth and threw 19 pitches, making him and Matt Thornton available Monday to face Prince Fielder if needed.
As prepared as the Sox are, they still have to solve Doug Fister, who limited them to two hits in seven innings Tuesday and has allowed six hits in his last two starts against the Sox.
Peavy believes Dunn, who missed last week’s Detroit series, could make a difference.
“And having him in there in any capacity is nice, and having him (produce) is just huge,” Peavy said.