Seattle: (66-42, 33-23 home) First place - AL West
Chicago: (57-51, 24-31 road) Second place - AL Central
Saturday, August 2, 7:05 p.m. FSN
Seattle: Ryan Franklin (R) (7-9, 3.67)
Chicago: Dan Wright (R) (0-4, (5.93)
NEWS AND NOTES
Chicago is on absolute fire, winners of four in a row and 12 of their last 13 games coming into the series. They are now just one game back of the AL Central leading Kansas City Royals...Seattle has won 5 of 6 games against the White Sox this year. Chicago's only win came on May 10 when Bartolo Colon beat Gil Meche, 4-3...The Mariners are coming off a three-game sweep of Detroit, and have won 5 of their last 7 games. They enter the series with a four-game lead on Oakland in the AL West...Seattle is lucky enough to miss the turn of Sox starter Esteban Loaiza, who is 13-5 with a 2.27 ERA on the season...Chicago ace Mark Buehrle was 2-10 on June 11, having not won a game since April 10. Since that time, he's went 7-0 to improve his record to a respectable 9-10. He gets the start on Sunday.
Randy Winn has turned himself into a different player since the All-Star break. The guy who most saw as a slap-hitting leftfielder before the break - he had just two homers - has connected on six long-balls in the second half of the season. All of a sudden, the M's appear to have their ideal left fielder and Winn's season stats look very respectable: .282, 8 HR, 47 RBI, 17 SB.
John Olerud's bat has started to heat up after an underachieving first half of the season. He has 2 homers and 7 RBI in his last three games.
Right-handed reliever Jeff Nelson has a 1.04 ERA in his last 11 appearances.
Rafael Soriano has struck out the last seven batters he's faced, and has a 1.06 ERA in his last 12 appearances.
Joel Pineiro quietly went 5-0 in July with a 1.44 ERA. He struggled with his command at times, but always seemed to manage to avoid too much trouble.
Magglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko and Carlos Lee have all been tearing the cover off the ball. Ordonez is 28-57 with 4 HR and 17 RBI since the break. During that span, Konerko has broken out of a season-long funk, batting .353 with 5 HR and 19 RBI. And Carlos Lee has provided the power, hitting 8 HR to go with 19 RBI and a .333 average.
Almost every pitcher on the White Sox roster has stepped up their game in the second half of the season. Since the mid-summer classic, 11 of the 14 pitchers who have thrown on the staff have posted an ERA of 4.05 or less.
Esteban Loiaza has a 2.66 ERA since the break, continuing to pitch like he did during the first half of the season.
Mark Buehrle went 4-0 in July after winning his final three games in June. Not bad for a guy that was once 2-10 on the year.
Jose Valentine always seems to have at least one breakout game each season, and that happened on Wednesday, when the veteran switch-hitting shortstop belted three homers against Kansas City. Though that makes him "hot," Valentine has the lowest average on the team since the All-Star break.
Bret Boone is just 12-50 since the break, but he has belted 4 homeruns.
Freddy Garcia's month of July was as bad as his month of June was good. In five starts, the 27-year-old went 0-4 with a 9.45 ERA. He allowed an amazing 28 runs in 26.2 innings pitched.
Arthur Rhodes also had a forgettable July, giving up two losses and allowing eight runs in only six innings. It was arguably his worst month since joining the team in 2000.
Gil Meche is coming off his first win in a while, but it came after four consecutive losses. He went just 1-4 in July with an ERA of 5.50.
Relief pitcher Rick White is a guy that has struggled everywhere he's been, and those difficulties have continued recently in his time with the White Sox. He's allowed nine earned runs in 8.2 innings pitched since the All-Star break, going 0-1 during that span.
Outfielder Carl Everett, who came over last month after playing the first 74 games with Texas, hasn't made the impact the White Sox management had hoped for. Since joining the team on July 2, Everett has batted just .241 with 1 HR and 6 RBI.