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Series preview: White Sox at Astros

5/16/2014

The uniforms are the same, but otherwise there will be few reminders of the 2005 World Series when the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros hook up for a three-game series this weekend at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros have not had a winning season since they went 86-75 in 2007. In fact, they have lost at least 106 games in each of the past three seasons.

The White Sox have at least made the playoffs once since 2005, falling to the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 division series. Since 2008, though, the White Sox have had just two winning seasons.

Last season was the Astros' first in the American League and they struggled to a 51-111 record. They won just two season series against AL teams and, of course, one of them was against the White Sox as they went 4-3. They went 10-9 against the Los Angeles Angels.

Both teams are in the midst of roster rebuilds, but are taking different routes to get there. While the White Sox added major league-ready players this past offseason in guys like Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu, the Astros are going through a lengthy rebuild from the ground up.

The 5-foot-6 Jose Altuve is the Astros' sparkplug, posting a .298 batting average and a .348 on-base percentage so far this season. His 13 doubles match Dayan Viciedo's White Sox-leading total.

Abreu enters the series leading the American League in home runs (15), RBIs (41), slugging percentage (.620) total bases (103) and extra-base hits (27).

Minute Maid Park is one of four AL ballparks this season to average at least two home runs per game and the short porch in left field could be an inviting target for Abreu despite his penchant for hitting the ball for power to the opposite field.

HEAD TO HEAD

No players on the current White Sox active roster have faced Astros starters Collin McHugh or Brad Peacock. ... White Sox batters have a combined 12 at-bats against Astros starter Jarrod Cosart, collecting three hits. Paul Konerko is 2-for-3 against the right-hander, but isn't expected to face him in Saturday's game. ... The Astros' Jose Altuve is just 1-for-7 against Jose Quintana, but Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez are a combined 6-for-11 (.545) against the left-hander. ... Chris Carter and Castro are both 1-for-3 lifetime against John Danks and each of their hits is a home run.

NOTES

When the White Sox visited Houston in June last season, they lost three of four games while in the midst of a freefall. The White Sox's 4-2 victory June 17 prevented a four-game Astros sweep and was their only win in an eight-game stretch. ... Since beating the Astros in the 2005 World Series, the White Sox are 7-9 against Houston in regular-season games. ... Alexei Ramirez needs three more games at shortstop to pass Chico Carrasquel for fourth most in franchise history with 836. ... Adam Eaton (hamstring strain) is expected to return from the disabled list Sunday. ... The White Sox just concluded a stretch where they played 23 of 33 games against 2013 AL playoff teams, going 11-12 in that run. They will now play 10 consecutive games, and 13 of their next 16, against non-playoff teams from 2013

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (1-3, 3.67 ERA) vs. Astros RH Collin McHugh (2-1, 2.81), 7:10 p.m. CST

Saturday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (0-2, 4.50) vs. Astros RH Jarrod Cosart (2-3, 4.30), 3:10 p.m. CST

Sunday: White Sox LH John Danks (3-3, 4.88) vs. Astros RH Brad Peacock (0-4, 5.17), 1:10 p.m. CST