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W2W4: Surprising White Sox come to town

4/18/2014

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The final series of this 10-game homestand for the Rangers pits them against the Chicago White Sox. Here are a few quick things to keep an eye on:

* The White Sox weren't anybody's pick to contend in the AL Central. And while it's early, the team is playing well, hanging in with the Detroit Tigers near the top of the division. The biggest reason: offense. Chicago has led the AL in runs scored for most of the season and has been in the top three in batting average and OPS. The result is a competitive team playing well right now. The Rangers have lost four consecutive series to the White Sox, dropping nine of 12 games in that span.

* Credit Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez for helping that White Sox offense. Ramirez leads the AL with a .390 batting average and Abreu and Ramirez both have four home runs.

* Martin Perez has quietly put up solid numbers to start the 2014 season, going 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 20 innings (three starts). But there is one area he wants to improve: walks. Perez has walked three batters in each of his last two starts, something he needs to cut down on as the season progresses. His lone start against the White Sox came in August of last year. He gave up four runs and eight hits in seven innings.

* Walkoffs. The Rangers have already had four of them at home. This team has shown resiliency and a flair for the dramatic. Don't be shocked if they've got one more in them before they head on the road to Oakland and Seattle.

* Colby Lewis should be over any jitters from making his first start in two years and is now just a normal member of the rotation. His next turn comes Saturday against left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana. Lewis gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings and admitted that while he was glad to get out there and see his velocity tick up a bit more than where he was in 2012, he expects to go deeper into games.

* Batting with runners in scoring position has been an issue for the Rangers during the last week. They came into Thursday's game 7-for-57 (.123) in their last seven games. They were hitting .352 (tops in the AL) with RISP before this seven-game stretch and are now just .250, still good for fifth in the AL.

* Prince Fielder has a .293 batting average in 40 games against the White Sox. He has hit a home run on this homestand but still hasn't really put together solid back-to-back games. We'll see if the weekend gets him going.