Orioles-Rangers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 18, 2013
Chris Davis' season has already entered the record books. Now, the Baltimore Orioles are hoping he can eventually lead them back to the postseason. Davis looks to continue his staggering production Friday night as the Orioles visit Arlington for the first time since eliminating the Texas Rangers from the playoffs in October. Davis has emerged as one of the most feared hitters in baseball, and his major league-leading 37 homers tied the AL record for the most before the All-Star break, set by Reggie Jackson in 1969. Davis also has a career-high 93 RBIs, two fewer than Detroit's Miguel Cabrera for the most in baseball. He went 1 for 3 while batting behind Cabrera in the AL's 3-0 All-Star game win Tuesday after entering the break with homers in four straight games. The first of that stretch was a solo shot in a 3-1 win over Texas on July 11, helping Baltimore (53-43) - currently 4 1/2 games behind East-leading Boston - earn a split of a four-game set at Camden Yards. Davis, though, is eying more than personal glory after the Orioles were eliminated in the division series by New York last season. That, of course, came after their 5-1 victory at Texas in the wild-card round. "It's a productive year," Davis told the team's official website. "Did we go to the World Series? Did we win the World Series? I think that's the ultimate goal. How far did the team go? A lot of guys had productive years last year, but we didn't finish where we wanted to finish." Giving the ball to Wei-Yin Chen (4-3, 2.82 ERA) may help get this three-game series off to a strong start. The left-hander has won both of his career starts against Texas behind a 1.23 ERA after allowing one run and three hits in seven innings July 10. That was also Chen's first outing after missing nearly two months with a strained right oblique. "For the last year and a half, he was a consistent force for our rotation," catcher Matt Wieters said. "You know he's going to go out there and give you everything he has and compete." The Rangers, losers of four of their last five games, may be hoping the break offered them a chance to get healthy. They have 10 players on the disabled list, including seven pitchers - six starters. "It's been a grind in the first half with the challenges we've been put up against," manager Ron Washington told the team's official website. "But we've done a good job dealing with it, and going through it can't help but make you stronger." Washington will give the ball to Derek Holland (8-4, 3.08), who is doing his part to pick up the slack on the mound. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 28 2-3 innings over his last four starts. "I just have to start the second half strong," Holland said. "I want to continue what I've been doing." Holland has won four straight starts versus the Orioles with a 2.10 ERA. He earned an 8-5 victory at Baltimore on July 8, when he allowed five runs - three earned - in 6 2-3 innings, ringing up Davis for three of his seven strikeouts. Nelson Cruz, one of three Rangers All-Stars on Tuesday, is a career .358 hitter against the Orioles - his highest average against any AL opponent. He's been even better against them at Rangers Ballpark, hitting .392 with 22 RBIs in 19 games, including two hits in last year's playoff meeting.
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