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Preview: Rangers at Rays

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A pair of struggling teams still holding down the American League’s two wild-card spots meet when the Texas Rangers visit the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday to begin a four-game series. The Rangers have dropped six in a row and gone 2-11 this month to fall into a tie with the Rays at 81-67, one-half game ahead of the Cleveland Indians. The Rays are 7-14 in their last 21 contests and had their three-game winning streak snapped after blowing a 3-0 lead at Minnesota on Sunday.

Tampa Bay rookie Wil Myers will face the Rangers for the first time after going 6-for-14 with four RBIs in his last four games. Texas' Adrian Beltre is 8-for-20 in his last five contests but is homerless with only five RBIs in his last 15 games. The Rangers won two of three games from April 8-10 at home in the last series between the clubs.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Texas), Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers RH Matt Garza (9-5, 3.79 ERA) vs. Rays RH Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.08)

Garza was 20-10 with a 3.21 ERA when pitching at home with Tampa Bay but has not faced his former team since being traded after the 2010 campaign. The veteran is 3-4 since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs but 0-3 in his last four starts while allowing 15 runs - 13 earned - over 25 innings. Luke Scott is 4-for-16 with two homers against Garza while David DeJesus is 6-for-20.

Cobb has gone four games without a victory, allowing 11 runs in 25 1/3 innings while receiving a total of only 10 runs of support. He is 5-0 in 11 starts at home and has yielded only 106 hits over 120 frames overall with 108 strikeouts and 40 walks. Mitch Moreland has a homer in five at-bats against Cobb, who owns a 4.91 ERA in two career starts versus the Rangers.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Rays have posted a club-record 15 shutouts each of the last two seasons. The 30 combined blankings are the most in the majors in that span.

2. The Rangers have gone six games without a home run, their longest drought since 1995.

3. Tampa Bay needs one victory to clinch its sixth consecutive winning season.

PREDICTION: Rays 4, Rangers 2

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130916/preview-rangers-at-rays