The Texas Rangers have a very comfortable lead in the AL West, which means their recent slump isn’t causing too much concern in the clubhouse.
The Rangers will try to bounce back from a loss to the major league-worst Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
Texas (50-35) fell 6-4 to Baltimore (26-59) on Thursday in the opener of this four-game series but maintained its 5 1/2-game lead over the Angels. The Rangers have the largest cushion of any division leader.
They led 4-0 after four innings before the Orioles capped their rally by scoring three times in the eighth, taking the lead on a bases-loaded walk by Darren Oliver(notes). The bases were also loaded when Oliver hit Felix Pie(notes) to tie the game.
Texas’ bullpen came in with a 4-1 record and 1.94 ERA in its previous 17 appearances.
“Our bullpen’s been lights-out all season long, so anytime we hand it over to those guys we feel we have a great chance to win the game,” third baseman Michael Young(notes) said. “But nobody’s perfect. They’re going to have games where things don’t bounce their way. That happened tonight.”
The Rangers, who have lost six of 10, will need to win their remaining three games to set a franchise record for victories before the All-Star break, set by the 1979 club that was 52-39.
Josh Hamilton(notes) will try to help Texas bounce back after he hit a homer and two doubles Thursday to extend his home hitting streak to 28 games. It’s the second-longest home streak in club history behind Al Oliver’s 30 games in 1981.
The Rangers will send Scott Feldman(notes) (5-8, 5.51) to the mound Friday after he gave up five runs in each of his last three starts, losing the past two. He lasted six innings in a 5-3 defeat to the White Sox on Sunday.
The right-hander allowed four runs and a season-high 12 hits in six innings of a 13-7 win over the Orioles on May 20. He’s won all four of his starts against Baltimore.
Matusz recorded his first win since April 18 on Sunday, giving up two hits and striking out eight over seven scoreless innings to beat Boston 6-1.
The left-hander had lost his previous nine decisions and the Orioles had won once in his previous 13 outings, although he had eight quality starts during that stretch.
“He’s probably been one of our most consistent guys,” interim manager Juan Samuel said. “We haven’t been able to score runs for him, but he’s been able to take us deep into games … so it was very nice to see us score some for him today.”
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