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Up next: Rangers

By JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001


7:15 tonight; 7:15 Wednesday; 7:15 Thursday

* * *

THE PAST MONTH: Like the Devil Rays, the Rangers had a managerial change early in the season. And like the Rays, the change has not stopped the losing. Texas was 11-17 under Johnny Oates and is 4-11 with interim manager Jerry Narron. Texas has lost its past eight series, which means something has to give this week because the Rays have lost seven series in a row. The Rangers are off to their worst start since 1985.

SCOUTING REPORT: The season has gone pretty much as expected. The Rangers can hit the heck out of the ball, but they do not have enough sluggers to overcome the league's worst pitching staff. The starters have been atrocious, with Kenny Rogers, Ryan Glynn, Doug Davis, Rick Helling and Darren Oliver posting ERAs over 6.56. On the bright side, Alex Rodriguez is having his usual Triple Crown-like season, and second baseman Randy Velarde is among the league leaders with a .340 batting average.

PITCHING MATCHUPS: Today: RHP Bryan Rekar (0-5, 5.05) vs. LHP Rogers (2-3, 6.56); Wednesday: RHP Brian Rose (0-2, 7.47) vs. RHP Glynn (1-3, 6.81); Thursday: RHP Tanyon Sturtze (1-3, 5.91) vs. RHP Helling (1-6, 7.19).

FAMILY TIES: Sturtze was in the Rangers organization in 1997-98, spending most of his time in the minors. He went 1-1 with Texas with an 8.27 ERA in '97. Wilson Alvarez was signed by the Rangers in 1986 and spent three seasons in the minors before being traded to the White Sox, along with a young outfielder named Sammy Sosa, for Harold Baines in 1989.

SEASON SERIES: This is the first meeting between the clubs and the Rangers' only appearance at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay has never won a season series against the Rangers. The closest the Rays came was last season, when they went 5-7. Overall, the Rays are 13-22 against Texas.

WHO'S HOT: A-Rod has turned it up a notch lately, going 14-for-32 with five home runs in his past eight games. His average has jumped from .292 to .320.

WHO'S NOT: Andres Galarraga is in a severe slump that has seen his average drop from .272 to .223 since May 1. He is 1-for-23 the past week.

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