Next week, Ron Washington will manage the AL All-Star team, which will include at least seven members from his Texas Rangers.
This week, Washington will try to keep those same players on track when they open a three-game road series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
With Texas coming off back-to-back World Series appearances and owning the majors' best record, there is heavy influence from the Lone Star State on the AL All-Star roster.
Josh Hamilton received over 11 million votes, more than any player ever, and he'll be joined by Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli as starters. Pitchers Matt Harrison and Joe Nathan, along with Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, were also named.
Yu Darvish could make it eight for the Rangers (50-30). He is one of five AL pitchers in a fan vote to determine the final member.
"I don't think the Texas Rangers have to apologize because we've got good players," Washington said. "I certainly didn't pick my guys being selfish, I picked them very deserving of being All-Stars, bottom line."
It's difficult to argue with Washington.
Texas has won 16 of 20 after completing a 7-3 homestand. The Rangers failed in a bid to sweep a four-game series from Oakland, losing 3-1 Sunday.
Darvish struck out 11 but took the loss as Texas had its five-game winning streak snapped. Hamilton, who hit .223 with four homers in June, opened July going 0 for 4.
Hamilton and the potent Rangers lineup will face another All-Star in Chris Sale (9-2, 2.27 ERA) on Tuesday.
Sale, who entered Monday leading the AL in ERA, gave up two runs in seven innings of a 12-5 win over Minnesota on Wednesday. It was the 10th time in 14 starts the left-hander allowed two or fewer earned runs.
"It's hard to keep saying the same things over and over again, but he's just a mature kid," manager Robin Ventura said.
Sale has not allowed a run in his last two home starts, spanning 16 innings. He is making his first start against the Rangers after four relief appearances in which he gave up one run and three hits in 3 1-3 innings.
The White Sox (42-37) return home following a 4-3 road trip. They dropped the final two games of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium over the weekend.
Gavin Floyd gave up a pair of two-run homers in Sunday's 4-2 loss while the bottom four batters in Chicago's lineup were 1 for 13 with eight strikeouts.
Before the All-Star break, the White Sox will try to improve on a 19-21 home record. Adam Dunn is 3 for his last 26 with 13 strikeouts at U.S. Cellular Field.
Dunn will face familiar opposition on the mound in Roy Oswalt (2-0, 4.26), who is making his third start with the Rangers in the series opener.
Dunn is hitting .247 with four homers and 28 strikeouts in 81 at-bats - his most against any pitcher - off Oswalt.
The right-hander gave up five runs and 13 hits in six innings of a 13-9 win over Detroit on Wednesday. In two starts, opponents are batting .393 against him.
Oswalt doesn't have a decision in two starts versus the White Sox, including one in Game 3 of the 2005 World Series.
Texas won two of three at home against Chicago to open the season.
- Texas Rangers
- Chicago White Sox
- Ron Washington
- Josh Hamilton