White Sox-Rangers Preview

After recently regaining the AL Central lead, it appears the

Chicago White Sox are doing all they can to stay in first place

going forward.

While Francisco Liriano won’t join the club until after the

weekend, he could provide a big boost down the stretch.

The White Sox try for a sixth consecutive victory and their

first road sweep of the Texas Rangers in 27 years Sunday night.

Chicago (55-45) made a big splash Saturday, sending infielder

Eduardo Escobar and pitching prospect Pedro Hernandez to Minnesota

in exchange for Liriano.

“He just has to come here and be solid,” Paul Konerko said. “He

doesn’t have to throw shutouts. He just has to give us a chance to

win. That’s all we’re looking for.”

Liriano is expected to remain in Minnesota until Chicago opens a

three-game set there Monday. The White Sox have a chance to carry

plenty of momentum into that series if they can keep things going

in this one.

After snapping a season-worst five-game road losing streak with

Friday’s 9-5 victory, Chicago won 5-2 on Saturday to move 2 1/2

games ahead of second-place Detroit in the division. Philip Humber

held the Rangers (58-41) in check for six-plus innings while

Konerko and Adam Dunn both hit two-run homers.

The White Sox, winners of five straight against the Rangers,

haven’t recorded a sweep of at least three games at Texas since

winning four in a row Sept. 5-8, 1985.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have dropped four of six overall thanks

in large part to batting .157 with runners in scoring position.

They went 0 for 13 in such situations Saturday – their worst

display since going 0 for 14 on May 13, 1997.

“If we start swinging the bat with some runners in scoring

position, we can turn this thing around,” manager Ron Washington

said. “That’s what’s killing us right now.”

Washington chose to leave Josh Hamilton out of Saturday’s

lineup, giving the slumping center fielder a mental break. Hamilton

is mired in a 1-for-23 skid and batting .119 in his last 16 games

but could be available Sunday.

Hamilton is 8 for 13 with a homer against White Sox scheduled

starter Gavin Floyd (8-8, 4.46 ERA), who’s gone 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA

over his last five starts. The right-hander overcame a season-high

six walks and limited Minnesota to three runs over six innings in a

7-4 victory Monday in his first outing since being removed from the

disabled list with elbow tendinitis.

Floyd has experienced mixed results in this series over the

course of his career, going 2-4 with 4.97 ERA over seven outings.

He’s compiled a 0.86 ERA in three of those starts and a 10.06 mark

in the other four. Floyd most recently allowed five runs in 5 2-3

innings during a 5-0 loss in Arlington on April 8.

The Rangers counter with Scott Feldman (4-6, 5.37), who’s also

held his own of late. Feldman is 4-0 with a 3.81 ERA in his last

five appearances – four starts – while walking two in 26

innings.

Feldman started Monday against Boston after Roy Oswalt was

scratched with back tightness and allowed one run and seven hits

over a season-high seven innings in a 9-1 win – his first

appearance since the All-Star break.

“We’re very fortunate that we have a veteran like him, that,

when an opportunity presents itself, he can go out there and keep

us in the ballgame,” Washington told the team’s official

website.

The right-hander is 1-1 with a 5.45 ERA in his last six

appearances – five starts – versus Chicago. Alex Rios and Konerko

have both taken Feldman deep twice, going 9 for 26 and 6 for 19,

respectively, in their matchups.

Texas hasn’t been swept in a home series of at least three games

since suffering four consecutive losses to Baltimore from July

8-11, 2010.