Regardless of how good each team is, the White Sox just seem to have the Rangers' number in recent years.
Texas lost both three-game series to the Sox last season -- Chicago was 63-99 overall -- and is just 5-10 against them in the last two years. The Rangers haven't won the season series against the White Sox since 2010, that despite four consecutive seasons of winning at least 90 games, and they will look to reverse the trend when Martin Perez takes the mound against Felipe Paulino on Friday at Globe Life Park.
"Some teams match up well," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They have pitching and they have some hitters that are pretty dangerous in that lineup. It being 2014, maybe it will change. Did we beat them in Spring Training?"
Washington did actually refer to Cactus League games -- he was laughing during the conversation -- and the manager was reminded that the Rangers beat the White Sox, 14-8, in a Spring Training game.
"We did beat them," Washington said. "That gives us something to look forward to."
The White Sox, as Washington alluded to, are a different team from last year. After finishing last in the American League in runs scored, second to last in on-base percentage and 13th in slugging percentage in 2013, Chicago has experienced an offensive turnaround so far in 2014. The Sox lead the Majors in runs (87) and are second in the AL in OPS (.762) and on-base percentage (.338).
A major reason for the improvement is Chicago's newfound ability to work counts.
"I think it's something you have to do, and I think it's something that wears on pitchers, it gets you to the 'pen," said Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton, whose .385 on-base percentage ranks 19th in the AL. "The more pitches you see, the more you can help your teammates see the pitches, see what he's got and what's going on."
Rangers: Perez a double-play machine
Perez, the Rangers' 2013 Rookie of the Year Award winner, just seems to keep getting better. The 23-year-old left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts this season.
"I'm very impressed," Washington said of Perez's season. "When you have the amount of experience that he has, you always look forward to seeing that growth continue. He's come out this year and shown that growth is continuing. We're watching him blossom in front of our own eyes. We just want him to continue to stay focused and not take his ability for granted."
Even more impressive has been Perez's ability to get a ground ball when he needs one. He has induced nine double plays over his last two starts, including four in a 1-0 victory over Houston on Sunday, making him the first pitcher in club history with consecutive games with at least four double-play balls. The last Major League pitcher with at least four double-play balls in back-to-back starts was Angels lefty Tommy John in 1984.
White Sox: Bullpen still a fluid situation
Chicago's bullpen has struggled to start the season, posting an MLB-worst 6.48 ERA. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he is still figuring out which of his relievers fit best in certain roles.
"Yeah, there's moving parts out there of where they come in and where you feel comfortable with them pitching," Ventura said. "But that happens a lot when things like this happen, and even right now things are moving around, kind of positioning themselves of where they're going to end up being."
Daniel Webb has been the Sox most consistent reliever, having posted a 2.53 ERA with eight strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. Some have been calling for Webb to take over the closer's role, but Ventura has repeatedly backed Matt Lindstrom as his closer.
"He has the potential to do it," said Ventura of Webb closing. "Right now, Lindy's doing it, but does Webby have the stuff to probably do it? Yeah, he has the stuff to probably do it."
• With 10 strikeouts in Thursday's game, Chris Sale notched his 11th double-digit strikeout game, tying Billy Pierce for the fifth most in White Sox history.
• With a single in the ninth inning Thursday, Alexei Ramirez set the White Sox franchise record for a hitting streak to start a season at 16 games. He has hit safely in 20 straight games dating back to last season.
• Thursday's game was the Rangers' only Thursday game in the first five weeks of the season.
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.