White Sox-Rangers Preview

The Texas Rangers have scored five runs in their last four
games, but manager Ron Washington believes the momentum is shifting
for his club – with good reason.

The Rangers could get an offensive boost if Josh Hamilton and
Nelson Cruz return for the opener of a three-game home series
against the Chicago White Sox on Monday.

Barring any setbacks, Texas (24-23) expects to have both
sluggers back in the lineup Monday. Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, has
been out since April 12, when he broke a bone in his upper right
arm while making a head-first slide at Detroit. Cruz has been
sidelined since May 3 with a strained right quadriceps muscle.

“With everybody back, we all know what kind of team we can be,”
Hamilton told the Rangers’ official website.

The Rangers were 9-2 before Hamilton went on the DL and have
gone 8-9 since Cruz went down. Cruz was hitting just .219, but he
has seven homers and 18 RBIs – third most on the team.

Hamilton was hitting .333 with seven RBIs before his injury. He
had a .462 slugging percentage despite having not hit a home
run.

“They’re difference-makers,” Washington said. “They make a
difference out there. Josh Hamilton influences our whole lineup.
There’s a difference in how our lineup reacts when he’s in
there.”

Texas could certainly use a boost. The Rangers snapped a
three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over Philadelphia on Sunday
behind 8 1-3 solid innings from Matt Harrison. Mitch Moreland and
Chris Gentry drove in runs.

Texas, which went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, has
averaged 2.2 runs and batted .209 the last six games.

The possible returns of Hamilton and Cruz aren’t the only things
the Rangers have going for them. Alexi Ogando (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will
look to continue his impressive start when he takes the mound.

The right-hander went seven innings at Kansas City on Wednesday,
allowing two runs and four hits in a 11-inning, 5-4 win.

Ogando, who has gone 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA at home, pitched two
scoreless innings of relief against the White Sox (22-26) last
year, giving up one hit.

However, Chicago’s offense has been rolling. It has won 11 of 15
and completed a 5-2 homestand – which began with a split of two
games against Texas – with an 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers
on Sunday.

After being shut out in the homestand opener by the Rangers, the
White Sox (22-26) scored 34 runs over the other six games. On
Sunday, Alexei Ramirez matched a career high with five RBIs and
finished a triple shy of the cycle.

John Danks (0-6, 4.32) is hoping he’s headed in the right
direction as well after overcoming a shaky start against Texas on
Tuesday.

Danks matched a career-high with six walks while giving up three
runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings of the 4-3 victory. It was the
first time in Danks’ nine starts this year that the White Sox
won.

The Austin native has had some difficulties in his returns to
Texas, going 1-3 with a 4.74 ERA in four starts in Arlington.

Hamilton is 3 for 7 against Danks while Cruz is 4 for 10.

Monday begins a 10-game road trip for the White Sox, who will
also face Toronto and Boston.

”It’s starting to go our way,” second baseman Gordon Beckham
said. ”I don’t really know how to describe it, but we definitely
have a little momentum and we feel good about where we’re at.”