Royals-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Josh Hamilton is hitting the ball hard and the opponent hasn't made much of a difference.

That may be why it's somewhat surprising that he hasn't enjoyed consistent success against the Kansas City Royals.

Hamilton looks to continue his torrid pace at the plate as the AL-leading Texas Rangers open a two-game set against the visiting Royals on Monday night.

Hamilton leads the majors with a .402 average, 18 homers and 44 RBIs thanks in part to his production during a 13-game hitting streak, his longest since a career-high 23-game run June 4-30, 2010.

The All-Star center fielder is batting .420 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs during his current streak, and he didn't show any signs of slowing down in Sunday's 13-6 win over Los Angeles. He collected two more hits, including a double, while driving in three runs.

"I really haven't thought about it, it really hasn't been different for me," Hamilton said of his staggering production, which includes at least one hit in 29 of his 32 games. "I'm really not paying attention to results. I'm just, same old thing, going out and trying to do whatever I can to help the team."

Hamilton has helped the Rangers (23-12) build an early five-game lead atop the AL West on second-place Oakland.

Continuing that outstanding pace versus the Royals (13-20) may be an issue. Hamilton owns a .221 average with three homers and 18 RBIs in 24 career meetings, hitting .182 in 13 at Rangers Ballpark.

If Hamilton has a tough time against Kansas City, Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus are likely candidates to pick up the slack. Both matched career highs with four-hit performances Sunday.

Cruz, who hit his third career grand slam, is 14 for 28 with seven RBIs in his last seven games. Andrus has a .436 average with eight RBIs and 12 runs over the past 13, boosting his season average 72 points to .328.

The Royals come in winners in four of five after beating Chicago 9-1 on Sunday following a 5-0 victory a day earlier.

Mike Moustakas missed both of those contests with a sore left hamstring, but may be back in the lineup to face Texas for the first time. The third baseman was batting .373 with six doubles and two homers in 16 games prior to the injury.

Kansas City would certainly like to see Moustakas back, and it'll also hope Bruce Chen (1-4, 4.83 ERA) can deliver a performance similar to his latest outing.

The left-hander allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3 win over Boston on Wednesday after losing four starts in a row behind a 6.56 ERA.

"I know I've been pitching well," Chen said. "I didn't worry. I didn't try to do too much. I trust my stuff, my teammates."

Chen, a member of the Rangers briefly in 2007, is 1-2 with a 10.58 ERA in eight games - four starts - against his former team.

Texas will counter with Scott Feldman (0-0, 4.35) in a spot start after a doubleheader last week altered the rotation. The right-hander has made one start this season, yielding two runs and six hits in 3 1-3 innings of a 7-3 win over New York on April 25.

Feldman is 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in four starts against the Royals, last facing them in a loss May 26, 2010.

The Rangers may be without bench coach Jackie Moore, who was hospitalized after feeling light-headed Sunday. He left the bench in the sixth inning, but a team spokesman said the 73-year-old Moore was feeling better by the time he was looked at in the clubhouse.

He was expected to be held overnight as a precaution.

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