CHICAGO -- Exciting series haven't been hard to come by for the White Sox this season as they've stormed out to one of the best records in baseball, but none have had the intensity and spark of the most recent games between the Sox and the Yankees.
The two teams squared off for three games at Yankee Stadium less than two weeks ago in a series that featured quality pitching, tremendous defensive play and close victories, if not great hitting.
That drama could be repeated for a second time as the two clubs meet again in a three-game series this weekend at U.S. Cellular Field. Saturday's game will be the focus of national attention as the game is featured on FOX, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:20 p.m. ET (12:20 CT).
"I think the expectation is that this next series will have the same excitement as the first," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It was an awesome atmosphere. When you're a fan and you watch that game or you're managing those games, you appreciate those kind of games."
The matchup between the two teams will be a tad different without Scott Podsednik leading the way for the White Sox lineup. Facing the Sox without their speedy outfielder is definitely an advantage according to Yankee skipper Joe Torre, but not his team's main concern.
"We need to deal with their pitchers more than to worry about their players," Torre said. "Not that we don't respect what they do, offensively, but their pitchers pretty much shut us down."
Chicago is hoping that its pitching staff can do similar damage to the Yankees lineup the second time around. Jon Garland will take to the mound for Friday's matchup, with Saturday's FOX start belonging to Orlando Hernandez. Hernandez and Jose Contreras, Sunday's starter, both had quality outings against their former team in the previous series and were a strong factor in the Sox taking two of the three games.
Konerko knows that it will take more than just good pitching to beat the Yankees -- there also has to be some luck involved.
"With the hitters they have in their lineup, all you can hope is that you catch them when they're not swinging the bat great," Konerko said. "When we were there we played really well with good defense. Aaron [Rowand] had a great series out in center where he took away some hits. But they have that string of hitters there in the middle if those guys are on and they're swinging the bat like they're capable. They're the kind of lineup that can take on a good pitcher on his good night."
New York will counter on the mound with Mike Mussina starting on Friday, followed by Shawn Chacon on Saturday and finishing up the series with Randy Johnson. Johnson is the only one of the three not to face the Sox the last time out. He was moved up in the rotation to pitch on his regular fifth day and his presence in Game 3 of the series could play a big factor in who comes away with the series win.
The weekend matchup has all the hype in place, but this Chicago team hasn't been the same since playing in New York. The Sox have dropped five straight since their last win at Yankee Stadium. Guillen knows that changing that trend with New York in town won't be easy.
"The [Yankees] have a good team and they are playing pretty good baseball right now," Guillen said. "Right now we're not playing good in Chicago, but we hope to turn that around. I expect it to be a good series."
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.