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CHICAGO – If the White Sox were looking for a stretch to turn their season around, the previous 19 games figured to be the time.

They played six-consecutive series against teams that were below the .500 mark to end July and start August. That didn’t really happen, though the team’s weekend sweep of Detroit did assure them a winning record in the stretch as they went 11-8 against the Rockies, Athletics, Rangers, Royals (twice), and Tigers.

As far as standings go, they finished right about where they started off the stretch as they remain three games behind the Guardians for first place in the American League Central division as of late Monday afternoon.

The problem for Tony La Russa’s team now is the competition really steps up over the next two weeks, including one of the hottest teams in baseball at the moment.

In a rematch of the American League Division Series from a year ago, the White Sox will host the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field for a four-game series beginning on Monday evening. Houston has overtaken the Yankees as the best team in the AL as they come to Chicago with a 75-41 record and on a four-game winning streak.

This is the second and final time the teams will meet in the regular season, with the Astros winning 2-of-3 during their other series at Minute Maid Park June 17-19. But things don’t get much easier for the White Sox even when the AL West leaders leaves town.

In a critical series in the division race, the White Sox face the Guardians for a three-game series in Cleveland starting Friday. After a quick trip to Kansas City on August 22nd to make up a game against the Royals that was postponed due to the lockout, the team then goes to Baltimore to face the Orioles from August 23-25.

They are currently four games over .500 and in the thick of the race for a Wild Card spot.

Once again, it’s a critical part of a season that hasn’t turned out as many had hoped, but 47 games remain for the White Sox to reverse that narrative and make the playoffs for a third-straight year.