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Series preview: Astros at White Sox

7/18/2014

CHICAGO -- Real progress can be seen during the Chicago White Sox's rebuild, from Adam Eaton's presence at the top of the order to Jose Abreu's production in the middle of the lineup all the way to John Danks' revival in the starting rotation.

Areas of concern still exist, no doubt, but the numbers show the White Sox are headed in the right direction.

The White Sox will open the second half Friday night against the Houston Astros with 45 victories, eight more than they had at this point last season. The White Sox didn't record their 45th victory until Aug. 12 last year.

The White Sox have a .403 slugging percentage at the break this season, compared to a .385 mark last year. Their 98 home runs are nine more than what they had at the break a year ago. But the area where their offensive improvement can be seen the most is in their 411 runs, 66 more than at this time last year.

While the Astros will enter their second-half opener 16 games under .500 (40-56), that doesn't necessarily bode well for the White Sox. Against teams under .500, the White Sox are just 18-26, while they have posted a 27-24 mark against teams above .500.

HEAD TO HEAD

The White Sox's Dayan Viciedo is just 2-for-16 (.125) against Astros starter Scott Feldman, but Tyler Flowers is 5-for-9 (.556), although all four of his outs have been by strikeout. ... The eight active White Sox players who have faced Astros starter Dallas Keuchel are a combined 3-for-22 (.136) against the left-hander. ... While Sox players have a combined 38 at-bats against Astros starter Jarred Cosart and just one extra-base hit. ... Astros batters are hitting a combined .321 (17-for-53) against White Sox starter Jose Quintana, but Jose Altuve is just 2-for-10 (.200) with four strikeouts. ... Astros batters are hitting a combined .364 (12-for-33) against White Sox starter Hector Noesi. ... The Astros' Matt Dominguez is 3-for-5 against White Sox starter John Danks with two home runs.

NOTES

White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez exited Saturday's game at Cleveland with a back injury, and did not play in the first-half finale Sunday, but he did see some action in Tuesday's All-Star Game and is expected to play Friday. ... Abreu will open the second half leading the American League in home runs (29) and slugging percentage (.630), while he is third in OPS (.972) and tied for third in RBIs (73). ... Flowers had two hits in Sunday's first-half finale, his first multi-hit game since May 23. ... White Sox third baseman Conor Gilaspie hit four home runs in his final 11 games of the first half after not hitting a HR in his first 59 games of the season. ... The White Sox's bullpen is 11th in the American League with a 3.90 ERA, 13th in saves with 19 and 14th in save percentage (59 percent). ... Before getting crushed by the Red Sox in his first-half finale, Feldman had a 3.19 ERA for the Astros in his previous six starts. ... Altuve ended the first half for the Astros as the only player in major league history to have at least 130 hits and 40 steals by the All-Star break.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (5-7, 3.24 ERA) vs. Astros RH Scott Feldman (4-6, 4.33), 7:05 p.m. CST

Saturday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (3-6, 4.56) vs. Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (9-5, 3.20), 6:05 p.m. CST

Sunday: White Sox LH John Danks (8-6, 3.99) vs. Astros RH Jarred Cosart (9-6, 4.17), 1:10 p.m. CST