First things first: The Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays lead their respective divisions and boast the top two records in the American League entering Monday's series opener in Chicago.
What's more, both clubs have excelled lately, with both sides winning six of seven.
"It should be a veryfun series," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "They're a talented team. You kind of saw it coming over the last couple seasons. You saw the youth that they had, and now those guys have evolved. They added some big pieces. Their pitching has been tremendous."
Chicago has allowed two runs or fewer five times in the past seven games, and is coming off a three-game road sweep of the Detroit Tigers in which the White Sox outscored their opponents 24-7.
The White Sox will try to keep the run of brilliant pitching intact between right-hander Lance Lynn (7-1, 1.23 ERA), who is 5-0 with a 0.88 ERA in his past seven starts.
Facing the Rays' American League East rival, the Toronto Blue Jays, on Wednesday, Lynn pitched seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball with zero walks and nine strikeouts.
The veteran has made a strong first impression on the White Sox organization and fan base after joining Chicago in an offseason trade with the Texas Rangers.
"When you come into a season with a team with this much talent and a chance to win, you make sure you get yourself ready to try to get to a whole new level," Lynn said. "The older I get in this game, the more I respect and enjoy these moments because you don't know when you're going to get them again."
Chicago won Sunday while resting shortstop and leadoff man Tim Anderson. Jose Abreu (RBI single) and Leury Garcia (RBI double) delivered big hits and left-hander Carlos Rodon took a bid for his second no-hitter of the season into the seventh inning.
Tampa Bay capped a three-game home sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with Sunday's 7-1 rout. Randy Arozarena smacked a grand slam while the bullpen contributed seven no-hit innings.
Rays relievers have compiled a 1.59 ERA in the past 17 games and lead the AL with a 3.05 ERA.
"We're the best bullpen, I think, in the league," said reliever Josh Fleming, who was part of Sunday's bullpen relay. "They're going to get it done."
Righty Tyler Glasnow (5-2, 2.57 ERA) is set to get the call for the Rays. Glasnow defeated the Washington Nationals in his most recent start Tuesday, pitching seven innings of one-run ball with one walk and 11 strikeouts.
Lately, Glasnow hasn't needed much assistance from the bullpen; he has pitched at least seven innings in his past three starts and four of the last five.
"That's us, pitching and trying to prevent runs," Cash said. "That is what puts us in a position to where we have a chance to be special. Right now we're getting a lot of big hits."
Glasnow is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two career appearances against the Rays, including one start.
Lynn is 1-1 with a 3.06 ERA in six games against the Rays, including five starts.
--Field Level Media