The Chicago White Sox set the table for an anticipated series against the Houston Astros by doing what they’ve done a lot lately: They defeated the Tampa Bay Rays at home Wednesday.
The White Sox earned an 8-7 victory in 10 innings for their sixth win in seven games, their 10th in their last 13, and 27th in their last 39 contests. They have the best record in the majors and the best run differential as well, improving to plus-107 by recording their fifth walk-off victory this season.
The White Sox will open a four-game road series against the team with the second-best run differential in the American League (plus-93) on Thursday at Minute Maid Park.
Critical to their success has been an ability to focus solely on the opponent in the opposite dugout, a task that becomes increasingly difficult as the hype builds when series victories are coming in rapid succession.
“We talked about that one of the first games of the series,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “It’s so important to play the series you’re playing. You can not get more ready for one and less ready for the other. You’ll regret it. You’ve just got to search wins every time. The only thing you recognize is every series is a different club and they give you different problems.”
Right-hander Dylan Cease (5-2, 3.38 ERA) will start the series opener for the White Sox. Cease has won consecutive starts, posting a 1.50 ERA over 12 innings, after allowing a season-high six runs in a 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians on June 1. He has recorded double-digit strikeouts three times this season, all coming in his last eight starts, and has produced 56 strikeouts over 42 1/3 innings during that span.
Cease has faced the Astros once previously, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and five walks with two strikeouts over six innings in a 6-2 home loss on Aug. 13, 2019.
Right-hander Jose Urquidy (4-3, 3.77) will get the start for the Astros on Thursday.
Following a five-start stretch where he did not allow more than two runs in any appearance, Urquidy has labored lately, allowing nine earned runs on 13 hits — including five home runs — over his last two starts and 11 1/3 innings.
Urquidy won four consecutive decisions before surrendering a season-high six runs in a 6-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on June 5. He will make his first career appearance against the White Sox.
The Astros improved to a season-high 11 games over .500 with their 8-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. Houston has won 12 of 16 games and continues to flex its power, clubbing a season-high six home runs in the series finale against the Rangers despite being without right fielder Kyle Tucker and losing third baseman Alex Bregman to a left quad strain.
Second baseman Jose Altuve continues to carry a sizable load atop the lineup. He became the first player in history to record a walk-off grand slam and leadoff home run in consecutive games and added his club-leading 15th home run in the eighth inning to finish off the Rangers.
“Just keep it coming,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Altuve. “This is a remarkable streak that he’s on. He’s swinging like a power hitter.
“He’s being aggressive. He’s not missing it. That’s pretty awesome how he’s starting out the games.”
–Field Level Media