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Up next for the Tampa Bay Rays: Texas Rangers

Tonight through Sunday

What's new: The Rangers (42-35) are in the thick of the AL West race, having just taken two of three from the Angels, including Wednesday's emotional, walkoff win. They were in first place for several weeks earlier this season, led by slugger Josh Hamilton, who could come off the disabled list sometime this weekend. They've got an All-Star-caliber second baseman in Ian Kinsler, leading hitter Michael Young (.315), an emerging rookie shortstop in Elvis Andrus and a steady closer in Frank Francisco (12 saves in 14 chances).

Key stat: The Rangers entered Thursday leading the majors with 117 homers, one ahead of the Yankees.

Connections: Hamilton is a former Rays first-round pick; RF Gabe Kapler, 1B Carlos Peña and bench coach Dave Martinez are former Rangers.

Series history: The Rays have yet to face the Rangers this season, with Texas leading the all-time series 60-46 and 34-20 at Rangers Ballpark. But Tampa Bay has won two straight season series and three of the past four after losing the first seven season series.

Up next for the Tampa Bay Rays: Texas Rangers 07/02/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 3, 2009 9:47am]
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