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Texas Rangers (55-42) at Kansas City Royals (48-47)
Saturday, July 23 - 7:15 PM EST
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
The American League West-leading Texas Rangers look to halt their losing streak and notch just their second win since the All-Star break when they visit the Kansas City Royals on Saturday for the middle contest of their three-game set. Texas fell to 1-6 on its second half-opening nine-game road trip on Friday, dropping a 3-1 decision in the series opener for its fourth consecutive defeat.
Rougned Odor provided the only run for the Rangers with his 18th homer of the season but struck out for the ninth consecutive game. Kansas City scored a run in each of the first three innings while Danny Duffy and three relievers combined on a five-hitter to help the team avoid a third straight loss. Cheslor Cuthbert homered and Paulo Orlando continued to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-3 as he has hit safely in eight of his last 10 contests - registering four two-hit performances in that span. The reigning world champion Royals, who are 2-2 on their nine-game homestand, trail Toronto by five games for the second wild-card spot in the AL and Cleveland by eight for first place in the Central.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, FS1
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers LH Cole Hamels (10-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. Royals RH Yordano Ventura (6-7, 4.97)
Hamels was superb in his first outing after the All-Star break, limiting the Cubs to an unearned run and four hits while striking out seven over eight innings in a victory at Chicago on Sunday. The 32-year-old Californian was roughed up twice by AL-worst Minnesota to end the first half of the season, going 0-1 while surrendering 10 runs on 15 hits and nine walks over 8 1/3 frames in the two turns. Hamels lost his only career start against Kansas City as he was battered for eight runs on nine hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings on April 7, 2013 while with Philadelphia.
Ventura's winless streak reached four starts on Sunday, when he settled for a no-decision at Detroit despite allowing only two runs in seven innings. The 25-year-old Dominican, who hasn't won since blanking the Tigers for 6 1/3 frames on June 17, went 0-3 with an 8.40 ERA in his previous three turns. Ventura has made four career starts against Texas, going 2-2 with a 4.84 ERA while recording 22 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings.
1. Rangers reliever Jake Diekman (finger) tossed a scoreless inning on Friday after being activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, while fellow LHP Cesar Ramos was designated for assignment.
2. Kansas City OF Lorenzo Cain elected to continue rehabilitating his left hamstring on Thursday instead of accompanying the team to the White House.
3. Texas DH Prince Fielder will receive a second opinion on his neck injury on Monday and then decide whether or not to have season-ending surgery.
PREDICTION: Rangers 6, Royals 2