What's new: The Rangers have morphed a bit into last year's Rays, adding improved defense, quality pitching (fourth in ERA in the American League) and speed to their usual show of power to make an unexpected run at the wild card. Rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus and outfielder Julio Borbon add speed and excitement. Veteran catcher Ivan Rodriguez was acquired to replace injured Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Outfielder Josh Hamilton, the onetime Rays prospect, has been inconsistent, injured and in the news recently for a lapse in sobriety.
Key stat: The Rays are 8-17 vs. AL West teams this season, 17-15 vs. Central teams and 27-18 vs. East teams.
Connections: Hamilton is a former Rays No. 1 draft pick, third-base coach Dave Anderson a Gibbs High product. … Rays first baseman Carlos Peña, outfielder Gabe Kapler, catcher Gregg Zaun and coach Dave Martinez are ex-Rangers.
Series history: The Rangers swept a three-game July series, outscoring the Rays 20-7. They lead 63-46 all-time but are 26-26 at the Trop.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer