Rangers, Royals toil to stay in contention (Jul 15, 2017)

BY AP • July 15, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals are both hovering around .500, but both have postseason aspirations.

After beating the Royals 5-3 on Friday night, the Rangers (44-45) moved within a game of .500. The loss extended Kansas City's losing streak to four games and dropped them to 44-44.

The clubs meet again Saturday.

The Rangers play their first 10 games on the road after the All-Star break against three teams -- Royals, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays -- all hoping to maneuver their way into the playoffs.

"Our mindset is we expect to be in it, and we'll act accordingly," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.

That means the Rangers will be buyers, not sellers, before the non-waiver July 31 trading deadline.

If the Rangers have a 2-8 trip, that could alter Daniels' thinking.

"If things go the other way, we'll look at other options," Daniels said.

The Royals lost 20 of their first 30 games before righting the ship. They trail the American League Central-leading Cleveland Indians by three games. Cleveland lost Friday at Oakland. If the Royals don't win the division, they have their eye on the wild card.

"Fully charged," Royals manager Ned Yost said for a last-half charge.

The Royals have had their problems with the Rangers. They have lost all five games against them this season and 10 straight dating to last year.

For the Royals to be even considered a postseason contender after a nine-game losing streak to end April shows how resilient they are.

"I'd rather we be in first place, but after April we put a nice run together lately and we hope to continue it," Yost said.

The Royals play their first 10 games after the break at Kauffman Stadium, all against clubs with sub-.500 records -- Rangers, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox.

The Rangers will start left-hander Cole Hamels on Saturday in the middle game of the series. He brings in a 13 1/3-inning scoreless streak into the game. He will be working on seven days' rest after a 10-0 victory over the Angels.

Hamels is 2-0 since coming off the disabled list and has won his past four decisions.

Against the Royals, Hamels is 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA in four career starts. Since joining the Rangers, he is 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA against the Royals.

Eric Hosmer, who has a 16-game hitting streak, is 0-for-10 lifetime against Hamels. Alcides Escobar has seen Hamels more than any Royals player, going 3-for-18. No current Royals player has homered off Hamels.

The Royals will counter with left-hander Danny Duffy, who is winless in two starts since coming off the disabled list. He surrendered three home runs, two to Justin Turner, in a 5-2 loss on Sunday to the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Duffy is 1-1 with a 3.90 ERA in five career starts against the Rangers. He tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings on April 20 at Texas in a no-decision.

This will be Duffy's first home start since May 18. He is 2-2 with a 2.76 ERA in five Kauffman Stadium starts this season.

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