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05/08/10 1:35 AM ET

Royals look to back Meche in Texas heat

Gil Meche still has a chance to beat Zack Greinke into the win column. But considering we're starting the second week in May, that isn't an exciting race for either.

To give Meche what they could not give Greinke, the Royals will also have to give Rich Harden something they could not give C.J. Wilson: Trouble.

While the Rangers are entering a perfect-storm phase of the young season -- tough pitching to go along with Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero hitting, Nelson Cruz healing -- Royals manager Trey Hillman just wants to come up with a perfect lineup combination to cope with Harden.

That will likely mean the return to second base of Chris Getz, who sat out the past two starts against opposing left-handed starters.

But Mike Aviles may also stick. Aviles, despite going hitless in four at-bats Friday, had hit well in Getz's position and may remain in the lineup at short. But this might not be the right time for Hillman to rest Yuniesky Betancourt, who was the bulk of the team's Friday night offense (2-for-3) after entering in a 2-for-24 slump.

The temperature in Arlington should average out to perfect for this matchup: Very hot Harden meets very cold Meche.

While Meche has steadily surrendered about a run for every inning he has worked, Harden harnessed his raw talents for back-to-back gems in which he has allowed a total of six hits in 13 innings to the White Sox and the A's.

Most significantly, the American League leader in walks (23, in 30 2/3 innings) did not issue a single free pass in that last outing against Oakland.

So, Texas manager Ron Washington stressed the obvious when he said, "The bottom line with Harden is throwing strikes. If he throws strikes, that's what you're going to get. As long as he throws strikes, he's got a chance."

That didn't work for Greinke, again. A very healthy 73 of his 108 pitches on Friday were strikes. He still fell to 0-4.

Royals: Meche searching for win
Meche will be making his eighth start since last winning, on Aug. 18 in Chicago against the White Sox.

Rangers: Waiting for Cruz's return
Only one Major League starter has as many decisions as Texas reliever Frank Francisco (4-3). The Phillies' Roy Halladay is 6-1. ... Outfielder Nelson Cruz, still Texas' home-run leader 10 days after landing on the DL with a strained right hamstring, remained on target to be activated when he becomes eligible, on Wednesday. Cruz, who has seven homers, declared himself completely recovered after Friday pregame drills and is expected to play a couple of rehab games with Double-A Frisco early next week.

Worth noting
Greinke, the Royals' reigning Cy Young Award winner, is 0-4 while allowing a total of 13 earned runs in seven starts. And in case you're wondering, his NL counterpart, the Giants' Tim Lincecum, is 4-0 -- and has allowed eight earned runs. ... Relief pitchers have made successful career-changes to starters, but has any ever won a Cy Young in that new role? It's early, but Texas' C.J. Wilson (3-1, 1.51) is trying to crash that picture.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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