Pittsburgh (25-44) at Texas (41-28)

Fair Currently: Arlington, TX
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Tue Jun 22, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

On paper, it would be difficult to come up with a bigger mismatch than this week’s three-game series between the Texas Rangers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While Texas looks to extend its longest winning streak in five years to nine, the Pirates try to snap an 11-game road losing streak Tuesday night as they open a nine-game trip in Arlington.

There is no hotter team in the majors than the Rangers, who finished their recent road trip with eight straight victories over Milwaukee, Florida and Houston. It’s their longest overall winning streak since a nine-game run from May 20-31, 2005.

Texas (41-28) has won 11 of 12 to gain a firm grip on first place in the AL West, thanks in large part to Josh Hamilton(notes).

Hamilton, among the top five in the AL in each triple crown category, drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the 10th inning Sunday as the Rangers capped a three-game sweep of the Astros with a 5-4 victory.

The slugger had five hits in the game and is batting .484 (31 for 64) with seven homers and 23 RBIs during a career-best 16-game hitting streak.

“It’s got a lot to do with mental,” Hamilton said. “It really does, because I can get up there and swing all I want but if I don’t have the right approach and right situations they won’t do me any good.”

Opposing pitchers are finding a tough time dealing with Texas’ lineup. The Astros intentionally walked Vladimir Guerrero(notes), second in the AL with 57 RBIs, in the 10th to get to Hamilton, and the following batter - rookie Justin Smoak(notes) - went 7 for 14 (.500) with two homers and eight RBIs in the last three games.

Plus, the Rangers might welcome back slugger Nelson Cruz(notes) on Tuesday. On the disabled list since May 30 with a torn left hamstring, Cruz is hitting .327 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs in 32 games.

His return would be just another obstacle for Ross Ohlendorf(notes) as Pittsburgh’s right-hander again tries for his first win. Last year, he had 11 victories and a 3.92 ERA.

Ohlendorf (0-5, 5.22 ERA) has struggled in his last two starts, allowing 11 runs and 19 hits in 12 1-3 innings during losses to Detroit and the Chicago White Sox.

“I know I can pitch a lot better than I have been,” Ohlendorf told the Pirates’ official website. “I’m working to try and get back to how I pitched last year. I know it’s coming. I know I will get there soon.”

Texas counters with Tommy Hunter(notes) even though the right-hander left his last start Wednesday at Florida after 2 1-3 innings with discomfort in his right hip flexor.

Hunter (2-0, 2.08) was sharp at home against Tampa Bay and Seattle in his first two starts of 2010 after stints on the disabled list and in the minors, improving to 8-4 with a 3.87 ERA in his career at Rangers Ballpark.

The Pirates (25-44) were swept in their only previous visit to Arlington in 2004, and they’ve been swept in each of their last three road series at Atlanta, Washington and Detroit. They’ve scored more than three runs once during their 11-game road skid.

Pittsburgh had lost 12 in a row overall before back-to-back wins over the weekend against Cleveland. Highly touted rookie Pedro Alvarez(notes) drove in the eventual winning run in both games, although he is 1 for 16 (.063) since being recalled from the minors.

“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling comfortable,” Alvarez said. “Any way I can contribute, I want to do it.”

A victory Tuesday would give the Pirates their first three-game winning streak since May 4-6.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Ohlendorf Tex vs. T. Hunter ChC
1-11 Record 13-4
4.07 ERA 3.73
79 K 68
44 BB 33
1.38 WHIP 1.24


Tuesday, Jun 22