All things being equal, the Chicago White Sox feel good about how they've fared after passing the midpoint of a 15-game stretch against playoff contenders.
Entering Sunday's series finale against the host Texas Rangers, Chicago is 4-4 during that stretch. The White Sox's young players have continued to show development, while their veterans are delivering, too.
"When you see yourself focused and compete and execute and do the things necessary to win and you get that victory, it can build up your confidence quite a bit," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told reporters.
"They also understand that every pitch and every out and every inning and everything that goes on matters. It's really important for them to push and drive and understand that's the way clubs put themselves together to give themselves a chance to win (in the) long term and hopefully go to the postseason."
Chicago began the recent run with a four-game home split against the New York Yankees, a notable feat to which the manager on the other side of town, the Cubs' Joe Maddon, can attest.
"Maybe a split with the Yankees is one of those short-term goals," Maddon said. "Playing against us, absolutely. That was one of those things I kept in mind when we were ascending in Tampa Bay and also (with the Cubs), the first year."
The White Sox continued with a two-game split against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Rookie left fielder Eloy Jimenez provided the heroics and headlines in the series opener, belting a go-ahead, ninth-inning home run against his former organization.
That's the stuff on which a winning organizational culture can be molded, and make no mistake, it's a vital characteristic, in Maddon's view.
"It's one of those things, you've got to feel it," Maddon said. "And if you've never done it before, maybe you don't understand. But it matters."
Ivan Nova (3-5, 6.01 ERA) is slated to get the call for Chicago in his second successive road start. Nova took a no-decision on Tuesday at Wrigley Field, settling down after allowing a Kyle Schwarber leadoff home run to work five-plus innings with four hits, two walks and one strikeout.
Nova lowered his ERA by 0.27, and is aiming to get that mark below 6 for the first time since April 13.
Nova and the White Sox will hope to keep Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara reined in as they try to win the series. After connecting for a towering, 505-foot home run in Friday's series opener, Mazara drilled two more homers on Saturday.
Mazara said Friday's blast "felt different coming off the bat" while adding that the reactions from teammates Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo reinforced the sensation.
"I knew I got it pretty good, but the only way I can describe it is that it felt 'different,'" Mazara said. "I didn't see where it landed, but when I got to home and I saw Elvis' face and Choo said he'd never seen a ball hit that far, it was pretty cool."
Righty Adrian Sampson (5-4, 4.40 ERA) is set to start for Texas. Sampson is 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA in nine home appearances.
--Field Level Media
White Sox send Nova to mound looking to win series with Texas
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