Jose Quintana will try to break free from his bad luck as the White Sox begin the second half Friday with the opener of a three-game home series against the Astros.
Quintana has emerged as an elite starter for the White Sox, but sports a 5-7 record. He's been hot of late despite his losing record, going 3-4 with a 2.89 ERA over his past 10 starts. He hasn't lost a decision since June 13.
In his past five starts, the left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.51 ERA in 35 2/3 innings, holding opponents to a .169 average over that span.
"He's been dynamite. He's got some pretty bad luck on his shoulders the last couple of years with all the no-deicsions, but he's as good as they get on and off the field and he works for it," White Sox ace Chris Sale said of Quintana. "That's why every time he goes out, we get what we need from him. It has been great."
The White Sox are pitching an arm short in the bullpen as they wait to see how shortstop Alexei Ramirez's back injury plays out and whether callup Carlos Sanchez will stay into the second half. With their 45-51 record, the White Sox earned eight more wins than their midseason total from last season (37-55).
The Astros, who finished the first half in fourth place in the American League West at 40-56, will counter with Scott Feldman.
He went 1-2 with a 3.19 ERA during a six-start span before being roughed up in his final start before the All-Star break. He allowed seven earned runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings July 11 against the Red Sox.
It's been an up-and-down first half for Feldman, who was signed to a three-year, $30 million deal in the offseason to be Houston's ace. He was on the DL from April 8-May 19 with right biceps tendinitis.
"Really, I want to make all my starts," Feldman said. "I want to stay healthy and not spend any time on the DL. Just be more consistent. The results weren't there for my last game, but if I could keep feeling confident in my mechanics and everything, that's really my goal."
Feldman is 5-2 with a 3.60 ERA in 10 career starts against the White Sox.
He said results have met expectations for Houston through the first half.
"We knew we were going to have some ups and downs and see some young guys come up here and show they're pretty good, so I think we'll expect more of the same in the second half and see a couple of more guys come from Triple-A and see what they can do," he said.
Astros: Altuve enjoys historic first half
• All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve will try to finish as strongly as he started, when he became the only player in Major League history to have at least 130 hits and 40 steals before the All-Star break.
"It was a good first half for us," Altuve said. "I think we played really good baseball. I just want to try to get on base and help my team win and we're going to come back in the second half and try to do the best we can."
White Sox: Abreu enters second half on fire
• The first half of Jose Abreu's first Major League Baseball season couldn't have possibly gone much better, aside from the 14 games he lost to a left ankle injury.
With his 29th homer Saturday, Abreu reached 50 career extra-base hits in the second fewest games in Major League history. Abreu did it in 81 games, while Ted Williams hit that target in 80 games in 1939, per Elias Sports Bureau.
His 29 homers were the third most before the All-Star break in franchise history behind Frank Thomas (32, 1994) and Jim Thome (30, 2006).
And the eight home runs Abreu has hit in the first inning leave him in a tie with Jose Bautista for long balls in that frame.
Simply put, the man on pace to equal Albert Belle's single-season franchise home run record of 49 and Mark McGwire's single-season rookie mark of the same total has changed the White Sox offense.
• The Astros hit the break with 40 wins, which is only 11 shy of their total from all of last year. Manager Bo Porter has said his goal is for the Astros to be the most improved team in MLB this year, which is within reach.
"We have a ways to go, but at the same time, if you look at the progress which we've made as a ballclub and the progress which a lot of these guys have made individually, it's good," Porter said. "My No. 1 job is to put them in position to play to their potential. A lot of these guys have improved. We've talked about it as a staff; we're watching these guys grow up in front of our eyes."
• Houston slugger Chris Carter's six homers in July are tops in the Majors, while his 10 RBIs are tied for eighth.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.