Friday, April 18, 2014
Series preview: White Sox at Rangers
By Doug Padilla
After a heartbreaking series defeat to the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago White Sox will take their act out on the road for seven games, starting Friday with a three-game series at Texas.
A better bullpen performance either Wednesday or Thursday against the Red Sox would have given the White Sox their third consecutive series victory at home, but instead they lost a 6-4 heartbreaker in 14 innings in the second game of the series and dropped a 3-1 decision in a pitchers' duel that marked the homestand's finale.
The White Sox's primary agenda this weekend would seem to be Jose Abreu and getting him out of his current doldrums. Manager Robin Ventura gave Abreu a breather Thursday by having on the bench to start the game against the Red Sox, but did give him a pinch-hit chance late.
After grounding out to end Thursday's game, Abreu now has just one hit in his last 22 at-bats (26 plate appearances).
Talking about it Thursday, Ventura says there is a mental aspect to the downturn as Abreu is coming to grips with the attention he received from his hot start and the realization that he must produce as the leader of the offense. But there is also the challenge of learning a new league where Abreu has admitted that the pitching is far superior.
While much improved at home, the 8-8 White Sox had their issues on their first road trip of the season at Kansas City and Colorado. They were just 2-4 on their maiden voyage and now head to Texas where the Rangers are a solid 7-3 at home.
At least there will be one less factor working against the White Sox this weekend as Arlington, Texas, is expected to have high temperatures in the 70s on Friday and Saturday, and over 80 degrees for Sunday's day game.
After their home stumble this week, the White Sox would like to build some momentum in Texas before heading to Detroit next week and showing the rival Tigers their new look.
HEAD TO HEAD
The Rangers' Prince Fielder is 4-for-8 lifetime against Felipe Paulino with two home runs, five RBIs and five walks. ... The Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo has two hits against Jose Quintana in five career at-bats, and both hits are doubles. ... Alexei Ramirez is 4-for-13 (.308) lifetime against Colby Lewis, but he has struck out five times. ... Players on the current White Sox roster have combined to go 2-for-14 against Rangers left-hander Robbie Ross, with no RBIs and no extra-base hits.
The White Sox will run into a pair of old friends in Texas in reliever Neal Cotts and outfielder Alex Rios. In a three-game series against the White Sox, shortly after his trade last year to the Rangers, Rios went 3-for-13 with a home run off Hector Santiago. ... Adam Dunn has 13 career home runs against the Rangers in 100 career at-bats, the most home runs vs. any opponent he's had 150 at-bats or less against. He has also reached base in 13 consecutive games this season. ... Dayan Viciedo has just three career hits at the Rangers' home ballpark and is a .136 hitter there in 22 at-bats. By contrast, Alexei Ramirez is a career .308 hitter there (28-for-96). ... Ramirez has a hit in all 16 games, the longest hit streak to start a season in White Sox history. ... Tyler Flowers has a hit in nine of his 13 games and has four multi-hit games this season after getting nine all of last season.
Friday: White Sox RH Felipe Paulino (0-1, 7.98 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Martin Perez (2-0, 2.70), 7:05 CT.
Saturday: White Sox LF Jose Quintana (1-0, 2.37). vs. Rangers RH Colby Lewis (0-1, 5.60), 7:05 CT.
Sunday: White Sox RH Erik Johnson (0-1, 6.35) vs. Rangers LH Robbie Ross (1-0, 1.00), 2:05 p.m. CT.