Royals bring winning feeling into four-game set at Texas

The Kansas City Royals boast a rare two-game winning streak and the Texas Rangers are on an offensive roll as two bottom-tier American League teams prepare for a four-game series starting Thursday night at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

The Royals finally won their first road series of 2018 on Wednesday afternoon, beating the Cardinals 5-2 in 10 innings to take two of three in St. Louis.

And because it was against their I-70 rivals to the east, it was even more significant for Kansas City.

“It’s always important” to win this series, Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said. “We take this series a little more (seriously) just because of the rivalry and the crowd and the energy. It’s always a tough place to play. Nice to come away with two wins.”

Salvador Perez, who made his first start at first base since 2013, homered early for the Royals in Wednesday’s win, and Whit Merrifield tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Drew Butera‘s two-run single in the 10th off Cardinals closer Bud Norris proved to be the game-winner.

Kansas City will send Danny Duffy (1-6, 6.88 ERA) to the mound for the series opener at Texas. The left-hander allowed five runs in four innings in his most recent outing against the Yankees on Saturday. He is 1-2 with a 3.25 ERA in his career against Texas.

The Rangers will counter with Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who was called up from Triple-A Round Rock to make his season debut.

Bibens-Dirkx has made eight starts in Triple-A, going 2-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 38 2/3 innings. He struck out 32 and walked eight.

Texas outbashed New York on Wednesday, beating the Yankees 12-10. Jurickson Profar‘s three-run double in the sixth was the go-ahead hit that allowed the Rangers to win for the second straight night and snap the Yankees’ string of eight consecutive winning series.

“I’m feeling a little like my old self — I’m hitting the ball well and swinging the bat good,” Profar said. “It’s a long season and you have your ups and down. I found myself in a position to produce something good for the team, and I have to be able to take advantage of those situations.”

It was the first time the Rangers have won a game when their pitchers allowed at least 10 runs since a 13-11 victory over the Chicago White Sox on May 10, 2016. It was just their fifth such win since the start of the 2010 season.

Rangers starter Doug Fister allowed eight runs (six earned) in 4 1/3 innings. But the late-inning relief combination of Alex Claudio, Jose Leclerc, Chris Martin and Keone Kela provided Texas with scoreless innings after Profar put them ahead.

Rangers designated hitter Nomar Mazara hit his first home run in 12 games when he smashed one into the home bullpen in the fourth inning. Ronald Guzman soon followed with his third home run in three games as the Rangers erased the Yankees’ 4-0 lead with a five-run inning. Both home runs came off New York starter CC Sabathia.

For Mazara, it was his first home run since going deep twice against the Tigers on May 9. He had seven home runs in the first nine games of May, but none until he hit a two-run shot off Sabathia on Wednesday.

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