What to watch for in the next 5 Chicago White Sox series, all against teams under .500.  Will they make their move in the AL Central?

Lance Lynn yelled in celebration after striking out Myles Straw with the final out of the fifth inning during Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Cleveland Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field.

It was classic Lynn, who struck out on the side.

The outing was Lynn’s best in a season. that was delayed after he tore a tendon in his right knee during a late spring training start. He allowed three hits, struck out six and walked one in six shutout innings.

“The main thing is to make sure that I physically stay strong in the second half and can mechanically stay where I need to be, because I created some bad habits trying to protect the knee,” Lynn said afterward.

Lynn is the likely starter for the Red Sox on Friday when they begin a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics at Guaranteed Rate Field.

It is the continuation of a streak of 19 straight games against teams with losing records that began Tuesday in Colorado. They split the two-game series at Coors Field, blowing a chance to gain ground in the AL Central on Wednesday night. losing a lead in the ninth inning and falling 6-5.

This is an excellent opportunity for the Sox to show the consistency that they have been lacking for most of the season. They are 49-49, three games behind the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins and a game and a half behind the second-place Guardians, who faced the Red Sox. in Boston Thursday night.

Here’s what to watch in the next five series.

The A’s have the worst record in the American League at 38-63. They’ve struggled offensively, ranking last in the majors in batting average (.214), on-base percentage (.275) and OPS (.616). They have been excluded 10 times.

The A’s have played better lately, winning six of eight since returning from the All-Star break. That includes winning all three games this week in a series against the Houston Astros, his first sweep of the season.

They are hitting .249 with 68 runs in their last 13 games (5.2 runs per game) after hitting .200 with 67 runs in the previous 25 games (2.7 per game).

Lynn, who is 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA in eight career starts against the A’s, will be followed by Johnny Cueto on Saturday and Dylan Cease on Sunday.

The Red Sox will be without reliever Reynaldo Lopez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a lower back strain. The move is retroactive to Monday. Lopez, who is 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 37 appearances (one start), pitched last Saturday.

The Royals entered Thursday in last place in the AL Central with a 39-59 record.

The Red Sox won’t have to deal with All-Star Andrew Benintendi after the Royals traded the outfielder to the New York Yankees on Wednesday. Benintendi hit .313 with five RBIs in eight games against the Sox this season.

The trade deadline will be a topic of discussion during the series at Guaranteed Rate Field: Teams have until 5 pm Tuesday to make moves.

The series at Kauffman Stadium is actually four games in three days, beginning with a doubleheader on August 9.

The teams have split the first eight meetings, with the Sox winning three of five the last time they met (May 16-19 in Kansas City, Mo).

The Royals have gotten some solid pitching from their starters lately. The rotation has a 2.84 ERA in the last 15 games, the best in the AL since July 10. But the Royals have made 19 errors in their last 22 games, the second-most in the majors since July 3 (the Boston Red Sox have 20).

The Rangers entered Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels with a record of 43-54.

The Red Sox had one of their most disappointing series of the season against the Rangers, losing two of three from June 10-12 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Sox won the first game but lost the second game 11-9 in 10 innings despite leading by five races after the fourth. The series finale was extended to 12 innings. with the Rangers prevailing 8-6.

The Rangers have had a tough July (7-16) and entered Thursday having lost nine of 11.

The Rangers have a plus-four run differential since the All-Star break, but are only 2-5. All five losses have been by one or two runs. Thirty-two of the team’s 54 losses this season (59.3%) have been by one or two runs.

The Tigers entered Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays in Toronto with a 40-59 record. They rank last in the American League in runs (320) and slugging percentage (.335).

The Tigers have lost 11 of 15 since a 4–2 loss to the Sox on July 10. The teams split that four-game series, but the Sox won seven of 10 in the season series.

The Sox are slashing .310/.357/.480 with 11 home runs in the 10 games. The pitching staff has a 2.31 ERA. The Tigers have a .203/.270/.283 slash line with five home runs against the Red Sox. His pitching staff has a 6.14 ERA in the 10 games.

The Red Sox continue the series with the Tigers with four at home against the Astros, leaders of the American League West. The 17 games between now and then could have the Red Sox headed in the right direction as they aim for a third straight postseason appearance.

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