I get the chance of a do-over this weekend in my MLB series predictions as the last time the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox met, it was a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field from July 3-5. I liked Texas to win the series because the Pale Hose were starting three inexperienced pitchers against the top offense in baseball. But it was Chicago that swept Texas, outscoring the Rangers 26-7 thanks mostly to a 19-2 win the opener. So in fairness, Texas could have still easily won two of three as it lost the last two games by a run apiece and led in both. That remains the only sweep this season of the Rangers in a series of at least three games.
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This weekend’s three-game set in Arlington will be the final time these two see each other in 2012 unless they meet in the playoffs, which is quite possible. Texas has a comfortable lead in the AL West, while Chicago is tied with Detroit atop the AL Central. Both clubs have something else in common: a desire to land Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke. Reports emerged Thursday that the Brewers have decided to trade their ace, and the White Sox and Rangers are two of the biggest suitors due to pitching injuries on each staff (John Danks on Chicago and Colby Lewis, out for the year, on Texas).
The Pale Hose had coughed up the Central lead after being swept in Detroit last weekend but have caught the Tigers thanks to a sweep of Minnesota to start this week. Texas, meanwhile, enters having won two of three vs. Boston.
There is one key injury to be aware of here: to White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis. He left Wednesday’s win over Minnesota with a sprained ankle that he says is minor. Since the Sox had the day off Thursday, they believe Youk will play Friday. He's hitting .277 with five homers and 20 RBI in 25 games with Chicago after coming over in trade from Boston. In that earlier three-game series with Texas, Youkilis was 6-for-13 with two homers, six RBI and five runs scored. He has slowed down of late, going 3-for-21 with two RBI in his past six games.
Meanwhile, Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan made some interesting comments about star Josh Hamilton’s struggles this week. Ryan said "there's a lot of those at-bats that he (Hamilton) just gives away" and that the outfielder didn't "seem to be locked in at all." But Ryan appears to be right. Hamilton was ridiculous the first two months of the season but hit just .223 in June and is batting .154 in July. Hamilton hasn’t homered since July 17.
You may remember at the all-star break that I wrote an updated story about Sportsbook.ag odds on the player to finish the season with the most homers. I’ll just mention that I chose Chicago’s Adam Dunn, and he now leads the majors with 30, two ahead of Hamilton and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun.
White Sox at Rangers Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: White Sox LHP Chris Sale (11-3, 2.37) vs. Rangers RHP Yu Darvish (11-6, 3.88) – Sale is coming off his first loss since May 12, having allowed five runs in seven innings at Detroit. He faced Texas on July 3 in that 19-2 win and allowed one run on five hits in 7.1 innings. Darvish hasn’t faced the Sox this year. He is 7-1 with a 3.50 ERA at home.
Saturday: White Sox RHP Philip Humber (4-5, 6.25) vs. Rangers LHP Matt Harrison (12-5, 3.02) – Humber is clearly the weak link in the rotation and was rocked by Detroit last time out in his first start off the DL. He hasn’t faced the Rangers this year. Harrison took the loss last time out, allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings at the Angels. He faced the Sox on July 5 and got the loss despite allowing just two runs in eight innings.
Sunday: White Sox RHP Gavin Floyd (8-8, 4.46) vs. Rangers RHP Roy Oswalt (3-1, 5.22) – Floyd returned from the DL Monday and beat the Twins, allowing three runs in six innings. He faced Texas way back on April 8 and allowed four runs in five innings to take the loss. Oswalt was skipped in his last start because of tightness in his lower back but expects to go Sunday. He was utterly destroyed on July 3 in Chicago, allowing 11 runs and 13 hits in just 4.2 innings. He is 2-0 with a 3.44 ERA in three starts at home.
White Sox at Rangers Betting Odds and Trends
The Rangers are -190 favorites on the series line at Bovada with Chicago at +155. For Game 1, Texas is -140 with the total at 8.5. Chicago is 17-29-3 “over/under” on road, while Texas is 19-27-2 at home.
White Sox are 0-5 in their past five road games and 0-5 in their past five road games vs. right-handed starters. Chicago is 8-3 in its past 11 after an off day and 2-5 overall in its past seven vs. a righty starter. Texas is 1-5 in its past six games vs. a lefty starter. The Rangers are 6-1 in Darvish’s past seven openers of a series. The under is 9-0 in Texas’ past nine road games. The under is 5-1 in the six meetings between these two this season (only over being that 19-2 game).
White Sox at Rangers Betting Predictions
I would like to take the White Sox here, as I usually try to take all series dogs when possible, but I definitely think Humber gets lit up in Game 2 and that Floyd probably does in the series finale. That Oswalt previous start vs. Chicago was a fluke. So at worst Texas takes two of three. For the opener, definitely go the under, and I think Texas wins it once the bullpens take over.
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