Chris Sale tries to state his case to be the American League's starting pitcher at the All-Star Game next week when the Chicago White Sox open a three-game series with the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field.
Texas manager Ron Washington will be the one making that decision, and Sale could tilt the balance in his favor with another strong outing tonight.
Sale has won his last six decisions, has allowed more than three earned runs in just one of his 14 starts this year and has pitched to the second best ERA in the AL at 2.27. His latest win came on Wednesday in Minnesota, as Sale allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings to run his record to 9-2.
"It's hard to keep saying the same things over and over again, but he's just a mature kid," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said.
This will be Sale's first start against the Rangers, but he has faced them four times out of the bullpen, pitching to a 2.70 ERA without recording a decision.
Chicago ended a seven-game road trip in disappointing fashion, dropping the last two games of the trek to the New York Yankees after a 4-2 loss on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
Gavin Floyd (6-8) allowed four runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 frames to take the loss in that one for the White Sox, who were 4-3 on the trip, but still hold a two-game lead on the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.
"You come in here and get the first two and it looks bad you don't win the next two. But you come in here and split, you leave feeling pretty good," said Ventura.
Texas, meanwhile, had its five-game winning streak stopped on Sunday with a 3-1 loss to Oakland.
Elvis Andrus drove in the only run of the game for the Rangers, while Yu Darvish (10-5) was touched for three runs on five hits with three walks and 11 strikeouts over seven innings to have a three-start winning streak stopped.
Texas, though, has still won 13 of 16, has the best record in baseball at 50-30 and will be well represented in Kansas City at the All-Star Game. 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.
Darvish may also get on the squad, as he is one of five AL pitchers vying for the last roster spot.
"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."
Tonight, they turn to righty Roy Oswalt, who is 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA. Oswalt won his second straight start on Wednesday against Detroit, but did not pitch well, as he surrendered five runs and 13 hits in six innings.
"He had to battle," Washington said after Oswalt's last outing. "He was facing a pretty good team that was swinging the bats. The one thing he did was he threw strikes and make them swing the bats. In my opinion it was a good game because he left the game and kept the lead. He just had to battle."
Oswalt has faced the White Sox just once and did not get a decision, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings.
Texas took two of three from the White Sox earlier in the season.