The Texas Rangers entered the All-Star break in a tie for first place in the competitive AL West.
They’ll begin play after the break and attempt to snap a five-game road losing streak in the opener of a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.
Texas (45-43) is tied with Oakland for first place in the West, with the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle both within 2 1/2 games of the lead.
The Rangers have taken a winning record into the All-Star break for the third straight season, but they’ve finished in third place each of the last two years.
In order for the Rangers to finish on top, they’ll likely need to get a better effort out of their starting pitchers. Texas’ starters have a 5.03 ERA, the third-worst in the AL ahead of only Baltimore (5.61) and Kansas City (6.25).
Vicente Padilla (8-5, 4.44 ERA) will get the first chance to change that for Texas when he takes the mound Thursday. Padilla is tied for the team lead with eight victories, although most of that success has come at home, where he’s 6-2.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.16 ERA in his last three road starts. He’s lost twice in as many career starts at Camden Yards, posting a 7.45 ERA while with Philadelphia.
Padilla, though, is 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA in his last six starts overall.
“Vinny pitching well has been a real need for us,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said.
Padilla will be backed by a lineup that features All-Star game MVP Michael Young. The Rangers shortstop earned the honor after delivering a go-ahead, two-run triple off Trevor Hoffman with two outs in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 3-2 victory for the AL.
“I mean, I’m not going to lie, this is a pretty big highlight in my baseball career,” Young said. “I think everyone dreams of having a big hit in the All-Star game.”
Texas is beginning an 11-game road trip that will take it through four cities, including a makeup game at Boston on July 20. The Rangers play 21 of their first 27 games after the break on the road, where they are 20-18 despite the recent slide.
Baltimore (41-49) has been plagued by poor play after the All-Star break in recent seasons. The Orioles went 27-48 last year after the break and suffered a 12-game losing streak in August 2004 that sent them to another losing season.
Cabrera is 0-4 with a 7.07 ERA over his last five outings. He’s lasted past the sixth inning just once in that span, and has issued 15 walks over his last 16 1-3 innings.
Control has been a problem all year for Cabrera, who has walked 70 in 80 1-3 innings.
The right-hander is making his second start of the year against Texas. He pitched well in his first outing, allowing one run and six hits over seven innings in Baltimore’s 2-1, 12-inning loss at Ameriquest Field on May 3.
The Rangers swept a two-game set from the Orioles from May 3-4, limiting Baltimore to a total of three runs and 12 hits.