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09/06/10 12:45 PM ET

Hamilton's absence will be felt in series

The swoon keeps intensifying, but the repercussions are still hard to measure. Texas has seen its share of struggles over the last few weeks, but its dominant lead in the American League West remains virtually undiminished. The Rangers will try to arrest their slide Tuesday in the second act of a four-game series against the Blue Jays.

And it won't be easy. Texas has lost seven of its last nine and eight of its last 11 games, and if you take that trend back a little further, the Rangers have lost 12 of their last 16 and 16 of their last 24 road games. That's before you even get to their struggles against Toronto, as the Rangers have dropped six straight to the Blue Jays.

Here's the bottom line, though: Texas has gone 15-20 since July 30, but that has hardly made a dent in the standings. The Rangers, in fact, have led the division by between seven and 10 games for 42 straight days. They haven't led by less than seven games since July 24, and they hadn't been as low as 13 games over .500 since July 17.

The Rangers will have to find their top gear without one of their best players. Josh Hamilton hasn't played in either of the last two games due to bruised ribs, and there's a good chance he could miss the rest of the series. Hamilton, who's hitting a Major League best .410 since June 1, is a huge loss in the lineup.

That would be true whether he was gone for a day, a week or a month, and the Rangers have reflected that reality over the last few years. Hamilton has missed 95 games since joining the Rangers before the 2008 season, and Texas has gone 44-51 without him in the lineup and 197-169 when he has been healthy enough to play.

Now, manager Ron Washington finds himself trying to coax better results from the rest of his roster.

"It doesn't matter who we put out there. We always feel confident," Washington said. "Some guys are going to get an opportunity to get some playing time, and they're going to have to step up. We're certainly not going to go out there with that as an excuse. None of those bodies we brought in are replacing what we had. They're just help."

The Rangers, who have been outscored 48-24 by Toronto this season, will turn to Opening Day starter Scott Feldman in Tuesday's game. Feldman has been on the disabled list since Aug. 23 with a bone bruise to his right knee. Prior to that ailment, Texas had removed Feldman from the rotation and installed him in the bullpen.

The southpaw posted a 5.06 ERA in five relief outings before going to the disabled list. Feldman posted a 5-9 record and a 5.46 ERA in his first 20 starts, prompting the Rangers to make a change.

Toronto will counter with right-hander Shaun Marcum, and he'll be trying to shake off a slide that has seen him win just one of his last six starts. The former third-round Draft pick is 4-3 with a 3.72 ERA since the All-Star break, though, and he has managed to post an ERA under 4.00 in three of the season's five completed months.

Rangers: Vlad finds himself in rare company
Even in Hamilton's absence, Vladimir Guerrero keeps on clicking. Guerrero had three hits in Monday's loss and has reached some impressive statistical milestones in his first season as a Ranger. Guerrero recently became the 15th player in the modern era to have 10 seasons of 100 RBIs, an achievement that frames his consistency.

Guerrero is also just the third active player to have 10 straight seasons of 100 RBIs, joining Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez at the top of the food chain. Guerrero will soon be joined in that category by Albert Pujols. Guerrero is also just the 11th player in big league history to have 10 seasons of 25 home runs and 100 RBIs.

Blue Jays: Escobar returns with fireworks
Shortstop Yunel Escobar returned to the lineup Sunday after a week spent nursing a stiff back, and he hardly showed any rust. Escobar homered for the Blue Jays -- his fourth in 37 games with Toronto after being blanked for 75 games with Atlanta -- in the home team's one-sided win.

Escobar was hardly alone. Aaron Hill and Vernon Wells delivered home runs for Toronto, the league's most prolific power-hitting team by a wide margin. The Blue Jays have hit 211 home runs this year, and they're within striking distance of breaking their all-time franchise record for that category (244 in 2000).

Worth noting
Despite their slump, the Rangers still have the sixth-best record in the American League. ... Hamilton wasn't able to do baseball activities Monday but regards his condition as day-to-day. ... Shortstop Elvis Andrus won't play before Wednesday due to a right hamstring injury, and he's likely to miss the entire four-game series. ... Toronto outfielder Fred Lewis missed his fourth straight game due to a right elbow injury. ... The Rangers purchased the contract of infielder Esteban German from Triple-A Oklahoma City and designated Alex Cora for assignment. ... The Blue Jays recalled right-handers Shawn Hill and Robert Ray from Triple-A Las Vegas.

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