Indians-Rangers preview

ARLINGTON, Texas — The ever-changing roster of the Texas Rangers figures to have a new look when the club begins a pivotal four-game series against Cleveland on Thursday at Globe Life Park.

Texas, which is in first place in the American League West despite getting shutout four times this month, will try to add some pop to the offense as outfielder Carlos Gomez is expected to be added to the roster in time for the series opener.

The former All-Star was released by Houston on Aug. 18 after a dismal start to the season. Texas signed Gomez two days later and sent him to Triple-A Round Rock, where he hit .308 in three games with a pair of extra-base hits and two RBIs.

Texas isn't expected Gomez to be a savior for an offense that has struggled this month despite adding Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran. He's not guaranteed a starting spot in an outfield that has two fixtures in Nomar Mazara and Ian Desmond.

But Gomez, who was an All-Star in 2013 and 2014, was worth the risk for Texas despite his .210 average in 85 games with Houston this year.

Texas manager Jeff Banister is hoping getting dumped by American League West rival Houston serves as motivation for Gomez.

“For a player of his caliber, for a team to not want you, then not be claimed, has to be a wake-up call, a punch to the nose, if you will,” Banister said. “He's still passionate for the game. Can still run, throw, hit for power. He has an opportunity to show the rest of the baseball world that he's still a relevant player, with a team that has a lot to play for.”

The first-place Indians have a lot to play for, too. The only team with a better record in the AL than the Indians is Texas. Cleveland comes into the series 5-5 in its last 10 games and losers of consecutive games in Oakland.

While the Indians have a 5 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central, they know they've got to get things going against a Texas team that is 39-20 at Globe Life Park and leads Seattle by 6 1/2 in the West.

Like the Rangers, Cleveland is in an offensive downturn. The Indians scored three runs in their three games against Oakland.

“Hopefully we just had like three days of amnesia,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “Those things happen. It's not fun when it does, but it happens. Fortunately we won one game 1-0, but we have to give them some (the Athletics) some credit. They did a number on us.”

While the Indians may not be hitting the ball well, the series in Texas will provide one Cleveland player with a chance to play where he's had a lot of success. Mike Napoli helped the Rangers to the World Series in 2011 and to the playoffs last year before signing with the Indians. This series will be the first for him in Texas since the postseason.

“It's a place that I'll always love,” Napoli said. “But I'm going there to compete and try to help our team win in any way. I've got a lot of friends on the other side, but when I step across the lines it's time to compete and try to win.”