(AP) — The Texas Rangers’ recent play at the plate does not bode well for a team looking to end a poor stretch of performances.
Neither does a road matchup Monday night with the Baltimore Orioles, who have dominated the AL West opponent in recent years.
Texas (38-38) has averaged 2.9 runs while losing seven of the last eight. The Rangers were dispatched in two of three over the weekend against Toronto, losing Sunday 3-2.
They had nine hits in that series finale, six from Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor, but failed to take advantage of run-scoring opportunities by going 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s not how we designed it,” manager Jeff Banister told MLB’s official website. “We’ve got to be better with runners in scoring position. Felt like we got pitched tough but really had some opportunities to drive in some runs”
Trying to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since May 29, they’ll face a Baltimore team that swept the Rangers at Camden Yards from June 30 – July 3 and has won 11 of the last 12 against Texas.
The Orioles (41-34) have been on a tear of late, winning seven of their last eight for a league-best 18 wins since June 4. Manny Machado and Jimmy Paredes each hit home runs in Sunday’s early 4-0 win over Cleveland, and Machado added two more RBIs in a 8-0 win in the doubleheader’s nightcap.
Baltimore had not swept a doubleheader with shutouts in both games since Sept. 6, 1974.
“We’ve got to keep playing baseball,” Machado said. “There’s a lot more baseball going ahead. There’s a lot more slumps. There’s a lot more games lost coming ahead. We’ve got to stay focused and just stay with the mindset that we have, which is to make the playoffs and go on forward.”
The majority of that recent success came without Adam Jones, who had been out of the lineup since June 20 with a sore right shoulder.
Jones went 14 for 26 (.538) with four homers and 11 RBIs in seven games against the Rangers last season.
Wandy Rodriguez (4-3, 4.06 ERA) will try to slow Baltimore after his month-long stretch of solid play came to a crashing end with eight runs and 11 hits allowed in an 8-2 loss to Oakland on Wednesday.
The left-hander had gone 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in six starts from May 21-June 17, all Texas victories.
“Tough one, but we’ll move on from it,” Banister said. “I’m sure Wandy will erase this from his memory bank. If I know him well, he’ll figure out what went wrong and move on.”
Rodriguez has limited experience against Baltimore, facing the Orioles only twice over his 11-year career, but he struggled on May 21, 2014, while with Pittsburgh, surrendering six runs – one earned – in 1 2-3 innings of an eventual 9-8 victory.
He will oppose Bud Norris (2-6, 6.70), who finally lowered his ERA below seven Wednesday, though he allowed five unearned runs in a 5-1 loss to Boston. He has edged Texas in both career meetings, most recently winning 6-5 on June 4, 2014.
Norris has been hit hard this season, allowing an opponent batting average of .307 and OPS of .889, both of which rank among the highest in baseball.