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Hamels starts opener as Rangers visit White Sox

Two last-place teams will look to create some positive feelings when the Texas Rangers visit the Chicago White Sox to open a four-game series starting Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Texas (17-27) endured a tough start to the year but has played better of late with three wins in its past five games. The Rangers are coming off a 5-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Chicago (10-29) has lost nine of its past 10 games. The team expected to take another step forward in its rebuilding process this season, but instead it has the worst record in baseball.

"Baseball has tremendous peaks and valleys," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said to the Chicago Tribune. "We're trying to come out of the valley and start to level off. Get to 30,000 feet and ride for a few hours."

Anything above the cellar would count as progress for the White Sox.

Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels (2-4, 3.48 ERA) will make his 10th start of the season. The 34-year-old was sharp his last time out as he tossed six scoreless innings while giving up only one hit in a 1-0 win over the Houston Astros. He has 57 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings.

In four career starts against the White Sox, Hamels is 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA. He has pitched well in Chicago -- both the North Side and the South Side -- throughout his career, including a no-hitter at Wrigley Field in 2015.

White Sox right-hander James Shields (1-4, 5.44) will try to pick up his first victory since Opening Day on March 29 against the Kansas City Royals. The 36-year-old is looking to bounce back from his most recent outing Saturday in which he allowed five runs in six innings against the Chicago Cubs.

In 15 career starts against Texas, Shields is 7-3 with a 2.70 ERA. He has struck out 92 batters in 106 2/3 innings. The veteran's most recent outing against the Rangers took place in 2017, when he allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings.

One of the White Sox's hottest hitters is Jose Abreu, who has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games. During that span, he is batting .366 (15-for-41) with four doubles, one home run and eight RBI.

The Rangers feature a feast-or-famine power hitter in Joey Gallo, who leads the club with 13 homers in 43 games. However, Gallo is hitting only .200 with 61 strikeouts in 160 at-bats.

Texas will be without star third baseman Adrian Beltre, who returned to the disabled list after he aggravated a hamstring injury. Beltre spent only five days with the team between stints on the disabled list.

"Unfortunately, any time you lose your team leader who is fresh off the DL, of course it has a significant impact," Rangers assistant general manager Josh Boyd told reporters.

This marks the first meeting between the teams this season. In 2017, the White Sox won the season series, 4-3.
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