* The Rangers were blown out by the Twins, 15-5, at Globe Life Park on Sunday. It was the ninth loss for Texas in its last 12 games, which has seen its division lead shrink from 10.0 to 5.5 games over the Houston Astros. Texas has the easiest second-half schedule, based on current records.
* The Cubs beat the Pirates, 6-5, on Sunday in Pittsburgh, notching just their second win in their last 11 games. Despite the slump, Chicago has the largest division lead in MLB (7.0 games) and starts the second half with a division lead for the first time since 2008.
* This is only the fifth series all-time between the teams, and the first in which both teams sit in first place in their respective divisions.
* Martin Perez got shelled on July 6, allowing 11 runs (seven earned) in 4.0 innings against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The loss drops his record to 7-5 this season, and he is 2-1 with a 5.52 ERA in his last five starts. In two starts against the NL Central this season, Perez is 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA.
* Kyle Hendricks made his first relief appearance of the season on July 7, throwing 2.0 scoreless innings against the Braves. In his last five appearances, he is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA. In six career interleague starts, Hendricks is 0-2 with a 5.28 ERA.
* With 25 homers, Kris Bryant became the first Cub to lead the NL in home runs at the All-Star break since Derrek Lee was tied for the lead with 27 in 2005, and the first to have sole possession of the lead since Sammy Sosa had 32 in 1999.