MLB Insiders: Texas Rangers

The Pirates open a three-game series in Texas against the Rangers on Tuesday night. Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will pitch for the Bucs. The Rangers will toss right-hander Tommy Hunter.

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.

Pittsburgh right-hander Ross Ohlendorf 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.

Texas counters with Tommy Hunter 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.

Despite leading the major leagues in hitting last week, Josh Hamilton was not named the American League Player of the Week.

Hamilton, who hit .593 (16-for-27), lost out to Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford. Hamilton also had a home run and six RBI in six games. He was the AL's Co-Player of the Week with teammate Colby Lewis for the previous week when he hit .370 with four homers and a major league-best 13 RBI.

The day, however, was not a total loss. Hamilton moved into third place in the most recent round of AL All-Star voting, which was announced Monday. He moved ahead of teammate Nelson Cruz, who has spent the last three weeks on the disabled list. Hamilton leads Cruz by 50,000 votes and trails Crawford for second by just 14,000 votes.

Also, Hamilton would seem to be the frontrunner for the AL Player of the Month award. Hamilton leads the majors in hitting in June with a .474 batting average. He also leads in RBI (25), on-base percentage (.500) and slugging percentage (.846) and is tied for the lead in homers (seven).

Hamilton takes a pair of significant hitting streaks into this week. He has a 16-game overall hitting streak and an 18-game interleague hitting streak with six games of interleague play left.

Notes,Quotes

* DH Vladimir Guerrero seems a certainty to start for the AL All-Star team in Anaheim, where he spent six seasons with the Angels. In the most recent voting results, released Monday, Guerrero was 1.3 million votes ahead of the Angels' Hideki Matsui for the DH spot.

* The Rangers will be bidding for their ninth consecutive win Tuesday. They have won as many as nine straight games four times in club history, most recently May 20-31, 2005.

* OF Nelson Cruz is expected to be activated from the DL on Tuesday. Cruz, who has missed the last three weeks with a strained hamstring, spent the weekend at Class AAA Oklahoma City. Cruz was 1-for-10 over the weekend.

* Over the course of their eight-game winning streak, the Rangers have a higher team batting average (.275) than ERA (2.74). For the first 20 days of June, the Rangers' staff ERA is 3.28, which leads the AL and is third in all of baseball. The strong performance by the pitchers has brought the overall team ERA down to 3.97, which puts them fourth in the AL behind Tampa Bay (3.58), Minnesota (3.80) and the New York Yankees (3.80).

* C Brett Nicholas, the club's sixth-round draft selection, signed with the Rangers. Nicholas batted .352 with 12 home runs, 15 doubles and a team-leading 64 RBI for the University of Missouri. The Rangers have signed 29 of the club's 53 draft selections.

By The Numbers: .474—OF Josh Hamilton's batting average for June. Hamilton, who took a 16-game hitting streak into the week, had a shot at the highest single month average in Rangers history. Mark McLemore set the mark at .472 in 1996, but that was in just 74 at-bats. Hamilton already had 78 at-bats for the month.

Quote To Note: "What's the definition of insanity? It's doing the same thing over and over and trying to get a different result. I got tired of getting the same result. When we eliminated the toe-tap, (hitting instructor) Clint (Hurdle) told me the only way it would work was if I was all in. I started trusting myself and the people around me." —OF Josh Hamilton, on how he finally was able to make a change to his swing and eliminate the toe-tap trigger mechanism in his swing.

Medical Watch:

* RHP Tommy Hunter (strained hip flexor muscle) left his start June 16 start after just 2 1/3 innings. He threw a bullpen session June 19, and he expects to start June 22.

* RHP Rich Harden (strained left gluteus muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list June 12. As of June 17, he had resumed throwing.

* LHP Derek Holland (mild left rotator cuff inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 31. He was diagnosed June 20 with a subluxation of his right knee after a mishap during a pitcher's fielding practice session, an injury that is likely to set him back several more days. He is expected to resume throwing sometime during the week of June 21, but might not be ready to return to the roster until the All-Star break.

* OF Nelson Cruz (strained left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 29. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Oklahoma City on June 18. Barring a setback, he is expected to be activated June 22.

* RHP Eric Hurley (right shoulder surgery in January 2009, left wrist surgeries in March 2010 and April 2010) went on the 60-day disabled list March 13. He was throwing in extended spring training in early June.

* RHP Omar Poveda (Tommy John surgery in March 2010) was recalled from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list April 23. He is out for the season.


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