Heading into the 2008 season, a quick scan of the White Sox's schedule would reveal what appeared to be an easy six-game road trip to Kansas City and Texas from July 8-13.
That "easy" road trip has been anything but a breeze. The Royals have shown some major signs of improvement under first-year manager Trey Hillman and have turned into a team that won't be very fun to play down the stretch.
But it's the Texas Rangers that have transformed themselves into a team that nobody will want to face.
The Rangers haven't been respectable since 2004, when they started off the year 18-7 and eventually went on to finish at 89-73. However, 2004 was the only year that the Rangers finished over .500 since the Ivan Rodriguez/Juan Gonzalez era in the late 1990s.
The story for the Rangers could always be written before the season even started: plenty of hitting, but not enough pitching.
The excuse? Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has always been a hitter-friendly ballpark. Pitchers never will be able to succeed there.
Texas has had some good pitchers in their organization, but Chris Young (San Diego), John Danks (Chicago), and Edinson Volquez (Cincinnati) are all putting together successful careers away from the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Pitching isn't the strength of the Rangers in 2008—and, in all likelihood, pitching will not be the strength of this Texas ballclub anytime in the near future.
But as long as the pitchers are throwing well enough to win, this Rangers team will compete. Vicente Padilla (10-5) and Kevin Millwood (6-4) both have done just that so far this year. While they may not be good (ERAs of 4.70 and 4.93, respectively) by any stretch of the imagination, they're doing what they need to do to win.