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Holland looks to stay hot in opener with Twins

MLB.com

White Sox left-hander Derek Holland will square off against Twins ace Ervin Santana in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday at Target Field.

Holland has experienced some ups and downs of late, but he is coming off one of his stronger outings after limiting the Orioles to one run on eight hits over six innings on Tuesday, while walking two and striking out five. The start lowered Holland's ERA to 3.79, as he rebounded from two tough outings to open the month.

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White Sox left-hander Derek Holland will square off against Twins ace Ervin Santana in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday at Target Field.

Holland has experienced some ups and downs of late, but he is coming off one of his stronger outings after limiting the Orioles to one run on eight hits over six innings on Tuesday, while walking two and striking out five. The start lowered Holland's ERA to 3.79, as he rebounded from two tough outings to open the month.

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Santana is enjoying one of the best starts of his 13-year Major League career, and he entered Sunday ranked third among qualified American League starting pitchers with a 2.56 ERA. This has largely been due to a scarcity of hits against Santana, as his 5.3 hits per nine innings is 3.3 below his career average.

The 34-year-old has also been chewing through innings at a very high rate, logging seven or more in eight of his 14 starts.

Things to know about this game

• The slider has been Santana's greatest weapon this season as he continues to play it off his fastball as a second primary pitch. He's already thrown 458 sliders this season, according to Statcast, but opponents have managed to hit just .128 against the pitch. When hitters do make contact against Santana's slider, the 14 hits he has allowed against that pitch have stayed on both ends of the spectrum with nine singles and five home runs.

• White Sox center fielder Leury Garcia remained out of the starting lineup for the three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays with a nagging left hand injury, but the club is hoping he will not need a DL stint after a second negative X-ray on Saturday.

• Despite Santana's success, he's been hit-or-miss at times over the last month and a half so it is unclear which version of him the White Sox will be facing. In four of Santana's last eight starts, he's allowed five earned runs or more. In the other half of those starts, he held the opponent scoreless three times and allowed two runs in the other game.

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.