The Orioles started this season as the hottest team in baseball, winning their first seven games before the Red Sox guided them to the loss column with a 4-2 decision on Wednesday night. Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels, meanwhile, is riding the longest winning streak of his career.
Something will have to give in Arlington when Hamels pitches for the Rangers against right-hander Chris Tillman and the Orioles on Thursday night at 7:05 CT in the opener of a four-game series.
The Rangers haven't lost a game with Hamels on the mound since Aug. 7. He is 9-0 with a 3.04 ERA in his last 12 starts. He has also been getting 6.61 runs of support per nine innings, and he has surrendered just one unearned run.
"I just think we've had a good combination of offense and defense and sticking to the plan of attack," Hamels said. "It comes down to executing pitches and getting into a routine. I strive for consistency. If I execute the game plan, execute pitches and have great defense, I know the offense is going to score runs. It's a good feeling. It's a team effort clicking on all cylinders."
The Orioles, in winning their first seven games, got off to the franchise's best start since the 1944 St. Louis Browns went 9-0. That team went to the World Series for the only time while it was the Browns.
Tillman will be making his third start of the season. He pitched two scoreless innings against the Twins on Opening Day before rain delays ended his afternoon. He allowed one run over five innings in a 6-1 victory over the Rays in his most recent start.
Worth noting • So far, Rangers pitchers have had success against Chris Davis since the former Ranger was traded to Baltimore. In 26 games (95 at-bats) against Texas, Davis is hitting .189 with four home runs, 10 RBIs, a .337 slugging percentage and 41 strikeouts.
• Mark Trumbo and J.J. Hardy are the only Orioles with more than 10 career at-bats against Hamels. Trumbo is 4-for-12 against him, while Hardy is 4-for-15, and each has a home run. Trumbo's 14 career home runs against the Rangers are his most against any club.
• The Rangers won six of seven from the Orioles last season, including the last four. They won all three in Arlington. The Orioles took six of seven from the Rangers in 2014.