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.
- Royals avoid sweep, 1 1-2 back of Tigers
- Braves complete collapse, miss playoffs
- Pirates beat Brewers 1-0, extend WC lead
- Kluber strikes out 14 again, Indians win
- Mariners blow lead, lose 8-3 to Astros
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- The Texas Rangers have been rolling behind a suddenly potent lineup. And now Prince Fielder is finally starting to contribute.
The Rangers look to continue pounding the Chicago White Sox as they seek their sixth consecutive win in the finale of this series in Arlington on Sunday.
Texas (11-7) is batting .351 with 15 doubles, seven homers and 34 runs during its season-best five-game win streak - a dramatic improvement over the Rangers' .207 average and 10 runs scored while dropping three of their previous five contests.
Fielder breaking out of his early-season funk has helped. The All-Star first baseman is 3 for 6 with a double, a homer and two RBIs over the past two games after batting .164 through his first 16 with the Rangers.
Fielder connected for his second homer of the season in a four-run fourth inning that powered Saturday's 6-3 win over the White Sox (8-10). He's 12 for 28 with three homers and seven RBIs over his last seven meetings with Chicago.
The Rangers are also getting impressive production from Alex Rios, Shin-Soo Choo and Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Rios has three hits in each of the first two games of this three-game set, getting two doubles while driving in three runs.
Choo is 8 for 21 with three doubles during the five-game winning streak, and he's hitting .343 over his last eight meetings with the White Sox.
Kouzmanoff, though, continues to be a major surprise after spending two seasons in the minors. He has three hits in this series, including a solo shot Saturday.
A .255 career hitter, the third baseman is batting .395 with nine RBIs while getting at least one hit in each of his 10 games since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Adrian Beltre (left quadriceps strain).
Robbie Ross Jr. (1-0, 1.00 ERA) is expected to get the ball, and he certainly wouldn't mind seeing the Rangers continue their offensive barrage.
The left-hander hasn't allowed an earned run through 15 consecutive innings over three starts, but he's been backed by just two total runs. He got them in a 5-0 win over Seattle on Tuesday when he lasted 7 2-3 innings.
"It's funny because I'm just trying to go out there and do the best I can to keep it close because I know we're going to start scoring," Ross said.
He's tossed 6 2-3 scoreless innings over six relief appearances versus Chicago.
The White Sox are slated to send Erik Johnson (0-1, 6.35) to the mound in the hopes that he can help end their four-game slide.
The rookie right-hander had a career-high nine strikeouts, and the only run he allowed in 6 2-3 innings came on a solo homer before Alexei Ramirez scored on an error in the ninth to clinch Tuesday's 2-1 home win over Boston.
That effort was much better than his previous start six days earlier, when he gave up four runs in 5 2-3 innings while not getting a decision in a 10-4 loss at Colorado.
Johnson credits the improvement on some mechanical adjustments.
"You try to get better each time you work," Johnson told the team's official website. "That's why you have those four days in between your starts, so you can really use those four days to your advantage. Being a starter, you are lucky to do that."
Chicago may be without leadoff hitter Adam Eaton after he suffered a strained left hamstring in the fifth inning Saturday. The center fielder may have suffered the injury after colliding with Fielder at first on a foul ball.
Eaton is 3 for 23 over the past six games after hitting .354 with nine RBIs in the first 12 of the season.
Updated April 20, 2014