Royals-Rangers Preview

Even mired in their current rough stretch, the Texas Rangers

remain confident. A visit from the Kansas City Royals could give

them reason to be optimistic.

The Rangers look to avoid a third straight loss overall while

trying for a sixth consecutive home victory over the visiting

Royals on Friday night.

Texas (11-7) has dropped six of eight since a 9-1 start, but the

reigning AL champions are not too worried after dropping

consecutive series to Detroit, New York and Los Angeles.

“We’re playing good baseball. Other teams are playing good

baseball too,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We’re only in

April. … No time to panic, we’ll be fine. It’s April.”

The Rangers might have a good chance to get back on track this

weekend.

Texas went 7-2 versus Kansas City (12-7) last season, which

included a four-game home sweep in May. The Rangers have won nine

of 12 at home against the Royals.

However, Texas likely will need to regroup at the plate where

they totaled five runs while dropping two straight to the Angels.

Elvis Andrus had two hits and Michael Young drove in the lone run

in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss.

Young has fared well through the team’s struggles, batting .409

with seven RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak. He’s hitting .488

with two homers and nine RBIs in his last 11 games versus Kansas

City.

The Rangers averaged 6.5 runs during their home sweep of the

Royals in 2010, but could be in for a tough challenge against

scheduled Kansas City starter Jeff Francis (0-1, 3.00 ERA).

Francis has not allowed more than three runs in any of his four

starts, and has walked just three overall. He gave up three runs

without a walk in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Seattle on

Sunday.

Francis, however, has received an average 3.00 runs of

support.

“It’s a shame we can’t seem to score runs for him,” Royals

manager Ned Yost said. “He doesn’t give in. He makes the pitches he

needs to make.”

The left-hander will face Texas for the first time since

allowing five runs in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-6 loss on June 23, 2006

while with Colorado.

Texas hopes Derek Holland (2-1, 3.66) can bounce back in the

opener after he allowed five runs and two homers in 7 2-3 innings

of a 5-2 loss at New York on Saturday.

“Nobody makes 100 perfect pitches,” said Holland, who allowed

three runs in his first two outings of 2011.

The left-hander lost his only start against the Royals, giving

up four runs in 4 2-3 innings at Kansas City in 2009.

Alex Gordon, who has never faced Holland, doubled to extend his

hitting streak to 15 games Thursday as the Royals scored twice in

the ninth to rally for a 3-2 win over Cleveland.

It was the fifth time the Royals have won in their final

at-bat.

“This team does not give up. It just does not give up,” said

starting pitcher Sean O’Sullivan.

Gordon is hitting .394 in the last 15 games, while Wilson

Betemit is batting .405 during his 12-game hitting streak and

former Ranger Jeff Francoeur .404 over an 11-game run.

Though the Royals have won twice in five games, they rank among

the major league leaders with a .269 batting average.