It’s a big week for the AL Central and NL West, as both the White Sox and Giants go into the All-Star break with tough schedules and small leads in their divisions. The White Sox open a six-game home stand against the Texas Rangers and the Giants are playing the “Nasty Nats” of Washington tonight in D.C.

The Giants are clinging to 1-1/2 game lead in the NL West, but the Dodgers look like they are close to done. If the Giants can go 4-2 before the All-Star break they could open up a five game lead with the way the Dodgers are playing.

The Giants also get to skip Stephen Strasburg in the series, so they have a legitimate chance of winning the series. The Giants head over to Pittsburgh for a series against the Pirates after they finish up in Washington on Thursday. It will be nice for me to watch the Giants at 7pm at night versus 9pm. I know, WAAAAAA!!!!

The Pirates have turned around their slow start and are only a game out of first in the NL Central, so this will not be a typical visit to Pittsburgh. The Pirates competed for the division last year, but they had momentum from the start, where this year they’ve built momentum very similar to the Giants this season. I still know the Giants are a better team, so this should be a successful road trip going into the All-Star break.

The Sox did not draw well schedule wise going into the All-Star break by starting a series with the Rangers tonight followed by a team that always gives them problems the Toronto

Blue Jays. The Rangers are 50-30, but have played a bit more inconsistently as of late. You know A.J. Pierzynski will play a big role in this series with Ron Washington sitting in the visitor’s dugout. A.J. did not except Washington’s politician-like explanation of A.J. not making the All-Star team, I’m not sure anyone did?

The pitchers match-up well in this series with Roy Oswalt and Chris Sale kicking the series off this evening, it could be a low scoring affair. We all know Sale can hold any team in check this year, but Oswalt is the wild card in this one. He pitched great in his debut, but did not fair well in his follow-up game despite getting the win.

The Sox are also plagued with a losing record at home at 19-21, which is an improvement from earlier in the year. The AL Central as a whole plays terrible at home with the Indians only over .500 by a game at 20-19. If you’re a Sox fan you want the AL to lose the All-Star game because they are better on the road.

The Blue Jays bring their high-powered offense in after the Rangers high-powered offense leaves, but the Blue Jays pitching staff is shakier than the Rangers. This should allow the Sox to bombs away this weekend at US Cellular Field. With humidity there could be a record number of homers hit there this week.

Unfortunately, the Sox seem to struggle against the Jays and haven’t had a winning season against them since 2006, not good. Still, this team has surprised everyone this year and with the Indians and Tigers not showing any signs of a strong run in them, the Sox could widen their margin this week with a good home stand. Even a split should at least keep them in first place.

On the other hand, if the Giants or Sox have a bad week they will probably be looking up at new division leaders going into the All-Star break. It’s a big week for my teams, so let’s get it done boys!