With Friday’s 5-3 victory in the opener, Texas is just one victory away from matching its eight-game winning streak from June 19-25 of last season.
What makes the Rangers’ latest surge so impressive is the fact that they are winning without much of a contribution from Alex Rodriguez. The star shortstop is batting just .167 (5-for-30) with three RBIs during the win streak.
Rafael Palmeiro homered Friday and drove in three runs for Texas, which increased its major league-leading home run total to 77.
Palmeiro, who hadn’t homered since hitting his 500th on May 11, is batting .407 (11-for-27) over his last eight games.
Baltimore, which came in after taking two of three from defending World Series champion Anaheim, lost for the ninth time in its last 12 overall.
Brian Roberts, who drove in a run in Friday’s loss, is batting .357 (5-for-14) during his three-game hitting streak with a homer and five RBIs. Roberts was called up Thursday from Triple-A Ottawa to replace injured second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr.
STANDINGS: Orioles - 4th place, 8 GB, AL East. Rangers - 3rd place (tied), 7 1/2 GB, AL West.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Omar Daal (2-5, 5.03 ERA). Daal, who signed with the Orioles as a free agent in the offseason, has struggled in his first season in the AL. The Venezuelan left-hander, who went 11-9 with a 3.91 ERA in 23 starts for Los Angeles last season, has allowed at least three earned runs in six of his nine starts. He didn’t get a decision in the Orioles’ 9-8 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, giving up four earned runs and nine hits over seven innings. Daal is 0-0 with a 5.00 ERA in his career against the Rangers.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: John Thomson (3-4, 4.78 ERA). Thomson is coming off his second complete game of 2003, winning 5-1 at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. The right-hander issued five walks but struck out a season-high nine while giving up just three hits in ending a personal two-game skid. Thomson, who signed as a free agent after splitting the 2002 season between the New York Mets and Colorado, has never faced the Orioles.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Orioles - Melvin Mora, .317 avg.; Jay Gibbons, 8 HRs; Tony Batista, 32 RBIs; Jeff Conine, 27 runs; Hairston, 14 SBs. Rangers - Hank Blalock, .361 avg.; Juan Gonzalez, 14 HRs; Carl Everett, 41 RBIs and 42 runs; Rodriguez, 6 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Orioles - DH David Segui is 4-of-34 over his last nine games. … 3B Batista is batting .571 (12-for-21) during a five-game hitting streak with a homer and eight RBIs. … LF Mora is riding a six-game hitting streak, batting .462 (12-for-26) with a homer, two doubles and two RBIs. Rangers - RHP Ugueth Urbina pitched the ninth Friday for his 16th save in 17 chances, his fourth consecutive game with a save. … The Rangers are 4-7 this season when 1B Palmeiro homers. … Texas has issued an AL-high 198 walks this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Orioles - 12-13 on the road; Rangers - 14-12 at home.
INJURIES: Orioles - 2B Hairston (foot), 15-day DL; OF B.J. Surhoff (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Lopez (rib cage), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL. Rangers - OF Doug Glanville (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (back), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.