(AP) — The Chicago White Sox are 11-5 over their last 16 games and have won five of their last six series. However they still find themselves nine games back of the Cleveland Indians.
The Texas Rangers have scored five runs in their last four games, but manager Ron Washington believes the momentum is shifting for his club – with good reason.
The Rangers open a three-game home series against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, hoping the potential returns of Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz can help a struggling offense.
Barring no setbacks, Texas (24-23) expects to have Hamilton and Cruz back in the lineup Monday. Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, has been out since April 12, when he broke a bone in his upper right arm while making a head-first slide at Detroit. Cruz has been sidelined since May 3 with a strained right quadriceps muscle.
“With everybody back, we all know what kind of team we can be,” Hamilton told the Rangers’ official website.
The Rangers were 9-2 before Hamilton went on the DL and have gone 8-9 since Cruz went down. Cruz was hitting just .219, but he has seven homers and 18 RBIs – third most on the team.
Hamilton was hitting .333 with seven RBIs before his injury. He had a .462 slugging percentage despite having not hit a home run.
“They’re difference-makers,” Washington said. “They make a difference out there. Josh Hamilton influences our whole lineup. There’s a difference in how our lineup reacts when he’s in there.”
Texas could certainly use a boost. The Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over Philadelphia on Sunday behind 8 1-3 solid innings from Matt Harrison. Mitch Moreland and Chris Gentry drove in runs.
Texas, which went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, has averaged 2.2 runs and batted .209 the last six games.
The possible returns of Hamilton and Cruz aren’t the only things the Rangers have going for them. Alexi Ogando (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will look to continue his impressive start when he takes the mound.
The right-hander went seven innings at Kansas City on Wednesday, allowing two runs and four hits in a 11-inning, 5-4 win.
Ogando, who has gone 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA at home, pitched two scoreless innings of relief against the White Sox (22-26) last year, giving up one hit.
However, Chicago’s offense has been rolling. It has won 11 of 15 and completed a 5-2 homestand – which began with a split of two games against Texas – with an 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.
After being shut out in the homestand opener by the Rangers, the White Sox (22-26) scored 34 runs over the other six games. On Sunday, Alexei Ramirez matched a career high with five RBIs and finished a triple shy of the cycle.
John Danks (0-6, 4.32) is hoping he’s headed in the right direction as well after overcoming a shaky start against Texas on Tuesday.
Danks matched a career-high with six walks while giving up three runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings of the 4-3 victory. It was the first time in Danks’ nine starts this year that the White Sox won.
The Austin native has had some difficulties in his returns to Texas, going 1-3 with a 4.74 ERA in four starts in Arlington.
Hamilton is 3 for 7 against Danks while Cruz is 4 for 10.
Monday begins a 10-game road trip for the White Sox, who will also face Toronto and Boston.
“It’s starting to go our way,” second baseman Gordon Beckham said. “I don’t really know how to describe it, but we definitely have a little momentum and we feel good about where we’re at.”
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