White Sox-Rangers Preview
Chicago White Sox at Texas Rangers
- At 8-8 this is already the sixth time the White Sox have been .500 this season (2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6 and 8-8). The White Sox are 10-5 against the Rangers since the beginning of the 2012 season, the best record by any team versus Texas (min 4 games).
- The Rangers took 3-of-4 versus Seattle this week in Arlington, and have won all three home series in 2014 (7-3 home record). In Texas' last four wins, the winning pitcher has been left-handed: 4/13 vs. Houston -- Martin Perez (tonight's starter), 4/15 vs. Seattle -- Robbie Ross Jr. and 4/16-17 vs. Seattle -- Pedro Figueroa.
- Alexei Ramirez' 16-game hitting streak to start the season is the longest to start a season in the American League since Alex Rodriguez with the Yankees in 2007 (18-game streak). Ramirez had hits in the final four games of 2013, and his 20-game hitting streak is the longest of his career (previous high was 15 in August 2010).
- Filling in for the injured Adrian Beltre, Kevin Kouzmanoff has a hit in each of his first eight games with the Rangers. He is the first Ranger to begin his career with an eight-plus game hit streak since Gerald Laird had an eight-game streak to start his Ranger career in 2003. The last Ranger to start his career with a nine-plus game hit streak was Fred Manrique (11 straight in 1989).
- Felipe Paulino has had a tough start to 2014, but in his career he is 2-0 with a 3.35 ERA (16/43.0) in seven appearances (six starts) against the AL West.
- Dating back to July 31, 2013, Martin Perez is 9-3 with a 3.09 ERA (34/99.0) in 15 starts (Rangers are 11-4). Texas has won all three Perez starts this season.
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By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- Kevin Kouzmanoff's production at the plate has been a big part of the Texas Rangers' three-game win streak. He likely won't be returning to the minors any time soon.
Kouzmanoff looks to continue his hot hitting Friday night, while Martin Perez will try to build on his best start of the season when the Rangers open a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox.
Kouzmanoff was out of the majors for two years before being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock by Texas (9-7) last week to replace slugger Adrian Beltre, who is on the disabled list with a left quadriceps injury.
The journeyman third baseman is certainly making the most of another shot in the bigs. A .255 hitter with Cleveland, San Diego, Oakland and Colorado from 2006-11, Kouzmanoff is batting .414 with five doubles, six RBIs and as many runs scored while getting at least one hit in each of his eight games with the Rangers.
His stunning production continued Thursday with two doubles, a pair of runs and an RBI in an 8-6 win over Seattle that gave Texas a 3-1 series win.
"You never know what can happen in baseball," Kouzmanoff said. "Here I am. It's great to be back."
Perez (2-0, 2.70 ERA) is also enjoying a strong start with each of his three outings ending in victories for Texas. His knack for forcing double plays has been vital.
The left-hander yielded five hits in eight innings of Sunday's 1-0 win over Houston, inducing four double plays. That came five days after he got five in 6 1-3 innings of a 10-7 win at Boston.
"That happens when you throw all your pitches down and you get a lot of groundballs," Perez said. "If you can throw strikes with runners on base, you can get a win, you can get the outs. You have to make a pitch and trust your stuff."
Perez got plenty of run support in his only career start against the White Sox on Aug. 23. He gave up four runs and eight hits in seven innings of an 11-5 road victory.
Chicago (8-8) is trying to avoid matching its season-high three-game slide after falling 3-1 at home to Boston on Thursday.
The White Sox may need to plate a few more runs since they're expected to give the ball to Felipe Paulino (0-1, 7.98), who owns the highest ERA of any AL pitcher who has tossed at least 14 innings.
The right-hander was battered again Saturday, surrendering six runs while half of the six hits he gave up left the park in five innings of work. However, the offense did spare him taking the loss in a 12-6 defeat against Cleveland.
"I've been fighting a lot executing my pitches (the) last couple of games," Paulino said. "But I miss a lot of spots. ... My slider comes sometimes, but I'm looking for consistency."
He hasn't had much in two career starts versus Texas, allowing seven runs and 17 hits in 11 1-3 innings while failing to get a decision. However, the right-hander yielded only one hit in 4 1-3 innings of relief early in a 12-7 road win in 14 winning while with Kansas City on May 27, 2011.
Alexei Ramirez is batting .381 with four homers and 14 RBIs, while his season-opening 16-game hitting streak is a franchise record. The shortstop, who singled Thursday, has a .354 average while getting at least one hit in 12 straight meetings with the Rangers.
It's unclear if Jose Abreu will be back in the lineup after he grounded to third as a pinch-hitter Thursday. The first baseman is 1 for 21 in the last six games, dropping his season average 87 points to .213.
Updated April 18, 2014