The Texas Rangers have yet to go 22 games over .500 this season. A few more matchups with the Baltimore Orioles, and they're likely to go well beyond that.
Texas looks to reach its high point of the season and continue its dominance over the visiting Orioles when these teams continue a three-game set Tuesday night.
Overshadowed by Josh Hamilton's four-homer game at Baltimore on May 8 was the Rangers (71-50) taking three of four in that series to make it eight wins in the past nine meetings. Texas added to its success against the Orioles with a 5-1 victory in Monday's series opener. Ryan Dempster pitched eight strong innings in his best start since coming over in a trade with the Chicago Cubs.
"It's fun to play games like this,'' said David Murphy, the only Ranger with more than one hit. "We got a great performance out of Ryan Dempster."
Monday's game was relatively close compared to some of the recent matchups between these teams. Texas has outscored Baltimore 87-28 in the last 10 meetings and is batting .345 while sporting a 2.58 ERA during that span.
This is the third time this season that the Rangers have been 21 games over .500, failing to go 22 above July 1 and Aug. 13. After going 9-14 and scoring a major league-worst 81 runs in July, Texas is 12-7 and has scored an AL-best 104 runs this month.
Adam Jones had half of Baltimore's four hits and the team's lone RBI on Monday but has gone homerless in 88 straight at-bats, his longest drought of the season.
The Orioles (66-56) dropped to 2-2 on a six-game trip with their fifth loss in 16 games overall.
"Every game at this point is I'm not saying do-or-die, but damn near,'' Jones said. "We're trying to do something that hasn't been done here in a long time. Coming here to Texas is a big stepping stone. They're a first-place team. We need to win series at this point of the season. We've been doing it of late and we need to continue that trend.''
Scott Feldman (6-8, 4.63 ERA) will try to help the Rangers win four straight for the second time this month.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his last two starts after winning his previous six decisions - one in relief. He limited the Yankees to three runs - all in the third - over six innings of a 3-2 loss Wednesday but had to pitch out of trouble in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
Feldman is 4-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 appearances - five starts - against the Orioles. He's done an excellent job against Jones, limiting the center fielder to one hit in 12 at-bats.
Baltimore is scheduled to start Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.65), who has struggled his last two outings but has fond memories of his last start in Arlington.
After allowing a season-high six earned runs over 5 2-3 innings in a loss to Kansas City on Aug. 11, the right-hander needed 110 pitches to get through 4 2-3 innings Thursday against Boston. He escaped without a decision after giving up three runs and six hits.
Tillman took a no-hitter into the seventh in a 6-1 victory at Texas on July 10, 2010. He ended up allowing one unearned run and two hits over 7 1-3 innings in perhaps the best performance of his career.