After recently regaining the AL Central lead, it appears the Chicago White Sox are doing all they can to stay in first place going forward.
While Francisco Liriano won’t join the club until after the weekend, he could provide a big boost down the stretch.
The White Sox try for a sixth consecutive victory and their first road sweep of the Texas Rangers in 27 years Sunday night.
“He just has to come here and be solid,” Paul Konerko said. “He doesn’t have to throw shutouts. He just has to give us a chance to win. That’s all we’re looking for.”
Liriano is expected to remain in Minnesota until Chicago opens a three-game set there Monday. The White Sox have a chance to carry plenty of momentum into that series if they can keep things going in this one.
After snapping a season-worst five-game road losing streak with Friday’s 9-5 victory, Chicago won 5-2 on Saturday to move 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Detroit in the division. Philip Humber held the Rangers (58-41) in check for six-plus innings while Konerko and Adam Dunn both hit two-run homers.
The White Sox, winners of five straight against the Rangers, haven’t recorded a sweep of at least three games at Texas since winning four in a row Sept. 5-8, 1985.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have dropped four of six overall thanks in large part to batting .157 with runners in scoring position. They went 0 for 13 in such situations Saturday - their worst display since going 0 for 14 on May 13, 1997.
“If we start swinging the bat with some runners in scoring position, we can turn this thing around,” manager Ron Washington said. “That’s what’s killing us right now.”
Washington chose to leave Josh Hamilton out of Saturday’s lineup, giving the slumping center fielder a mental break. Hamilton is mired in a 1-for-23 skid and batting .119 in his last 16 games but could be available Sunday.
Hamilton is 8 for 13 with a homer against White Sox scheduled starter Gavin Floyd (8-8, 4.46 ERA), who’s gone 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA over his last five starts. The right-hander overcame a season-high six walks and limited Minnesota to three runs over six innings in a 7-4 victory Monday in his first outing since being removed from the disabled list with elbow tendinitis.
Floyd has experienced mixed results in this series over the course of his career, going 2-4 with 4.97 ERA over seven outings. He’s compiled a 0.86 ERA in three of those starts and a 10.06 mark in the other four. Floyd most recently allowed five runs in 5 2-3 innings during a 5-0 loss in Arlington on April 8.
The Rangers counter with Scott Feldman (4-6, 5.37), who’s also held his own of late. Feldman is 4-0 with a 3.81 ERA in his last five appearances - four starts - while walking two in 26 innings.
Feldman started Monday against Boston after Roy Oswalt was scratched with back tightness and allowed one run and seven hits over a season-high seven innings in a 9-1 win - his first appearance since the All-Star break.
“We’re very fortunate that we have a veteran like him, that, when an opportunity presents itself, he can go out there and keep us in the ballgame,” Washington told the team’s official website.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 5.45 ERA in his last six appearances - five starts - versus Chicago. Alex Rios and Konerko have both taken Feldman deep twice, going 9 for 26 and 6 for 19, respectively, in their matchups.
Texas hasn’t been swept in a home series of at least three games since suffering four consecutive losses to Baltimore from July 8-11, 2010.