Chicago White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia (26). Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo
Texas was expected to be one of the major leagues' top power teams this season despite being in rebuilding mode.
The Rangers proved that premise to be true when they flexed their considerable muscle on Friday and ripped five home runs, three of them in the first two innings, to set the tone in an 11-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the first game of a three-game series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
The White Sox will try to get back on track with left-hander Carlos Rodon (1-2, 3.70 ERA) taking the hill Saturday to oppose ageless Rangers right-hander Bartolo Colon (4-5, 4.72).
The Rangers' win provided a night off for closer Keone Kela, who on Wednesday saved his 20th game in 20 chances, the longest season-opening streak in club history. Kela broke Francisco Cordero's 2004 record of 19 consecutive saves and now has converted 22 straight chances dating to May 2017.
The 22 consecutive saves constitute the third-longest streak in Texas history. Kela is nine saves shy of tying Joe Nathan's club record of 31 consecutive converted saves in 2012.
"It's a nice comfort zone to have," Rangers manager Jeff Banister told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about Kela. "Most of the saves have been clean innings. (It has been fun) to watch the maturation process of Key out there on a nightly basis being able to calm it down and just go pitch by pitch."
It looks as if the White Sox will be without right-hander Miguel Gonzales for a while longer. Gonzales, who has been on the 60-day disabled list since April 18 with right rotator cuff inflammation, returned from his rehab assignment after experiencing soreness in a throwing session after the start for Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday.
"It's a little setback," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told mlb.com about Gonzales' situation. "He still felt a little something so he's going to be re-seen, re-evaluated, and we'll see where we go from there."
Gonzalez opened the season in the rotation but was 0-3 with a 12.41 ERA before landing on the disabled list. This is the second time he has had to restart his rehab.
Rodon is scheduled to make his fifth start of the season. It will be his third start on the road and fifth career start against Texas. He picked up the win in his last start on June 24 at home against Oakland when he allowed two runs and seven hits with three strikeouts in eight innings.
Rodon is 1-0 with a 3.91 ERA and .245 opponents' average in his previous starts against the Rangers.
Colon will head to the mound for the 17th time this season and make his 15th start. He enters with 244 career wins, most in MLB history by a native of the Dominican Republic. He recently passed Juan Marichal (243) and is one win shy of matching Nicaragua's Dennis Martinez (245) for most victories by a native of Latin America.
Colon ranks among AL leaders in pitches per inning (fifth, 15.0) and SO/BB ratio (ninth, 4.15) but has also permitted 19 home runs, third most in the AL. He will pitch on an extra days' rest after taking loss in the Rangers' 2-0 defeat on Sunday at Minnesota.
The former White Sox pitcher (12 starts in 2009) did not face Chicago in the clubs' earlier series. He is 11-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 24 career appearances (all starts) against Chicago.