After falling out of first place in the AL Central last weekend, the Chicago White Sox are back in front with a small lead.
Despite having some cushion in the AL West, the Texas Rangers may be feeling a little more heat from their closest pursuers.The White Sox will go for their fifth straight win overall and against the Rangers on Saturday night.After being swept by Detroit last weekend to fall 1 1/2 games behind the Tigers, Chicago (54-45) has rebounded with four straight wins to take a 1 1/2-game lead.Coming off a three-game home sweep of Minnesota, the White Sox opened this series with a 9-5 victory Friday. Alejandro De Aza drove in two runs in the fourth before leaving after a collision with Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios added a two-run homer in the ninth.Chicago manager Robin Ventura said that De Aza "probably" has a slightly sprained left wrist. De Aza had a bandage on his wrist after the game."It's still sore," De Aza said. "I'm moving my hand and it's not bothering me much."After scoring nine runs and hitting .195 during a five-game losing streak, the White Sox have averaged 8.8 runs while hitting .326 in four games since."When we're swinging the bats well, we're as good as anyone," said Adam Dunn, who scored twice and had a rare stolen base.Although Texas (58-40) still has a four-game lead over Los Angeles in the West, it may be feeling more pressure after the Angels acquired Zack Greinke from Milwaukee on Friday. Oakland has also played itself into the division race, winning 17 of 20 to pull within 4 1/2 of the Rangers.Another big concern for Texas is the continued struggles of Josh Hamilton, who went hitless for a third straight game Friday and is batting .145 in July with 19 strikeouts. He struck out twice in the loss and heard rare boos from the home crowd."Look at his numbers," teammate Mike Napoli said. "They're awesome still. He's just been struggling lately."Hamilton didn't answer many questions after the game, but when asked about the crowd booing him, responded, "What have you done for me lately?"Although the Rangers have a few concerns, Matt Harrison (12-5, 3.02 ERA) likely isn't one of them.Harrison will be looking to bounce back Saturday after allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings of a 7-4 loss to the Angels on Sunday. However, he had a 1.34 ERA over his previous 10 starts and had thrown consecutive complete games.The left-hander is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts against the White Sox this season. The loss on July 5 was his first in seven lifetime starts versus Chicago.Opposing Harrison will be Philip Humber (4-5, 6.25), who struggled his last time out after a promising return off the disabled list against Boston on July 17.The right-hander, who allowed two runs in six innings at Fenway Park, gave up six runs and surrendered four homers in three innings of a 6-4 loss at Detroit on Sunday.The Texas native is making his first start against the Rangers after posting a 1.69 ERA in three relief appearances.
Hard to believe considering his blistering start, but Josh Hamilton has been benched by the Rangers. After batting .368 with 21 HR in the April and May, Hamilton is batting just .190 since June 1st. His power numbers are way down as he hit 21 HR in April and May, but just 7 since.