American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, July 27th
(All times Eastern)
Chicago White Sox (53-45) at Texas Rangers (58-39), 8:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Chicago - Chris Sale (11-3, 2.37)
Texas - Yu Darvish (11-6, 3.88)
(Sports Network) - A pair of American League division leaders go head-to-head
tonight at the Ballpark in Arlington, where the Texas Rangers begin a three-
game set with a Chicago White Sox team riding a three-game winning streak.
Chicago had fallen out of first place in the AL Central after losing five
straight times last week, including three to Detroit that allowed the Tigers
to move into the top spot. The White Sox were able to bounce back with three
consecutive victories over non-contending Minnesota in their last series,
however, and now lead Detroit by a half-game after the Tigers fell to
Cleveland on Thursday.
The sweep of the Twins was led by an offense that generated 26 runs over the
three games and came through with 12 hits en route to an 8-2 triumph in
Dayan Viciedo paced Chicago by going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI,
while Alex Rios added a two-run shot to help back six solid innings from
starter Jake Peavy.
"The boys really stepped up and swung the bats well," said Peavy, who held
Minnesota to two runs -- one earned -- and struck out six over the first six
innings. "We just played solid team baseball. It was nice to come back from
the short road trip and play well."
The White Sox were able to prevail despite being without catcher A.J.
Pierzynski, who sat out the last two contests with a mild oblique strain but
could be back in the lineup tonight. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis is expected
to play after leaving Wednesday's win with a sprained left ankle.
Chicago will get its first-ever look tonight at Rangers rookie sensation Yu
Darvish, with the well-regarded Japanese hurler attempting to build off a
dominating performance his last time out.
Darvish matched a career high with 11 strikeouts to pick up his 11th win of
the season this past Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim,
limiting Texas' AL West rival to two runs and just three hits through seven
innings in the process. It's the third time in his last four starts that the
25-year-old has fanned double-digit batters, and his 132 strikeouts for the
season currently ranks fifth in the American League.
He's also excelled pitching in hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in his major
league debut, having amassed a glossy 7-1 record with a 3.50 earned run
average in eight home starts, and will be taking on a Chicago squad that's
dropped its last five road tilts.
The White Sox will be sending out a talented young pitcher of their own
tonight in 2012 All-Star Chris Sale, though the hard-throwing lefty didn't
have one of his best efforts the last time he took the hill.
Sale allowed a season high-tying five runs and walked four batters through
seven innings in Saturday's 7-1 loss at Detroit, which snapped a string of
eight straight winning decisions for the former first-round pick. He had
registered a stellar 1.61 ERA over 10 starts during that unbeaten run,
yielding two runs or fewer in nine of those outings.
The 23-year-old handcuffed the Rangers in Chicago back on July 3, permitting
just one run on five hits over 7 1/3 strong innings to earn the victory in his
first career start against Texas. Sale had faced the Rangers four times in
relief prior to that effort and owns a 1.69 ERA in a combined 10 2/3 innings
versus the club.
Texas sports a relatively comfortable five-game advantage over the second-
place Angels in the AL West and began its present 10-game homestand by winning
two of three bouts from slumping Boston earlier in the week. In Wednesday's
rubber match, Derek Holland teamed up with two relievers on a five-hitter as
the Rangers came through with a 5-3 decision.
Holland worked the first 7 2/3 innings and gave up three runs and all five Red
Sox hits while striking out seven. After Mike Adams came on to get the final
out of the top of the eighth, closer Joe Nathan tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to notch
his 20th save of 2012.
The game was tied at 3-3 entering the bottom of the seventh, when Texas' Elvis
Andrus reached base by being hit with a pitch and advanced to third on an
Adrian Beltre single before scoring the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from
Boston starter Josh Beckett.
Nelson Cruz extended the margin with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth
as the Rangers improved to 10-2-1 over their last 13 series.
Texas was swept in a three-game set against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular
Field earlier this month, however, but did take two of three meetings from
Chicago in Arlington from Apr. 4-6.
07/27 10:49:19 ET