09/01/10 2:36 AM ET
Hunter aims to get Rangers on track vs. KC
By Alex Espinoza / MLB.com
Texas was on the wrong end of a topsy-turvy, 10-9 contest against the Royals on Tuesday, but still hold an 8 1/2-game lead over the A's in the American League West.
The Rangers are expected to receive a pair of infield reinforcements in the series finale, as everyday second baseman Ian Kinsler and Cristian Guzman are set to return. Kinsler, who is batting .298 with six homers and 38 RBIs this season, has been out since July 27 with a groin strain.
Andres Blanco has filled in well at second base, batting .308 in 23 games since Kinsler went down. Guzman hasn't played for the Rangers since Aug. 13 with a strained hamstring.
But down the stretch, Texas' robust offense surely won't be the question.
"It comes down to pitching," manager Ron Washington said. "It comes down to winning these games where we score just three or four runs. Our offense will take off again but in this business, pitching is the key."
With the recent struggles of Cliff Lee, who gave up seven runs on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings Tuesday, the Rangers have leaned on C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter in the rotation.
Hunter will take the ball Wednesday and face Kansas City right-hander Bryan Bullington, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
Bullington picked up his first MLB win with eight scoreless innings against the Yankees on Aug. 15, but has struggled mightily since. Against the Indians on Friday, Bullington surrendered seven earned runs on nine hits over four innings.
"We're in the big leagues," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said after the game. "There are no 'ifs.' You have to go out and you have to pitch. He really struggled to have any bite on his slider. He left some pitches middle-in that he ended up getting hurt with."
Rangers: Hamilton receives knee treatment
Outfielder Josh Hamilton received a lubricant injection in his balky right knee after Tuesday's game and will be out of the Wednesday's lineup.
"It's not any different, there's just more pain now than there normally has been," Hamilton said. "The key is to get it calmed down, get the right medication going and get out there playing."
Royals: Meche expected to be among callups
Kansas City is expected to make some additions of its own as rosters expand to 40 men Wednesday, including third baseman Josh Fields, pitcher Gil Meche and catcher Lucas May. Power-hitting prospect Mike Moustakas is not expected to get the call.
"You could certainly make a case that it's important for [Moustakas] to come up here in September, get acclimated and see what the Major Leagues are about," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "Is that prudent now? It's not. He's still going to get the same opportunity in Spring Training that he would have had in 2011 whether he's a September callup or not."
The Rangers hold a 6-2 advantage in the season series heading into Wednesday, the final meeting between the two teams. ... Royals' top southpaw starting prospect Danny Duffy and seven other players will represent Kansas City in this year's Arizona Fall League. ... Texas righty Dustin Nippert is scheduled to pitch three innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday and could join the Rangers on Friday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.