ARLINGTON, Texas -- Don't be surprised if the Houston Astros break out some sort of black magic in trying to overcome the spell the Texas Rangers seem to have on them.
The Astros have lost all seven games with Texas this season and are on an 11-game losing streak in Arlington, dating to 2015.
"We've got to play complete games here," manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's really not that complicated how things have gone for us at this ballpark. We've had some close games. The reality is when you play good games, no matter where they are or what the opponent is, you've got to play complete games."
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Houston didn't do that in losing 6-5 on Monday.
Charged with the task of ending the skid is reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who has looked more like himself over the past two starts, despite a disappointing and inconsistent 3-7 beginning to the 2016 season. Keuchel, who has a 5.50 ERA, has had success against the Rangers. In a career-high 16 starts against Texas, he has four victories, tied for most by any pitcher against the Rangers in franchise history. RHP Collin McHugh (4-0), RHP Roy Oswalt (4-6), LHP Wandy Rodriguez (4-3) are the other Astros pitchers with four victories.
The chore won't be easy.
Going for Texas is lefty Cole Hamels, who is 4-0 with a 2.75 ERA against the AL West. Hamels has limited Houston to three runs -- two earned -- in two victories this season.
Texas hitters, meanwhile, have hammered Keuchel in two previous starts this season, battering the lefty for 13 runs on 22 hits.
Hamels, 5-1 with a 3.39 ERA this season, is also seeking a career landmark. With six strikeouts, he would reach 2,000 for his career, just the 77th player in history to reach the mark and seventh active player to do it.
Hamels received a no-decision in his last outing, giving up three runs on six hits over seven innings against Cleveland. Texas has lost three of its last four games in which Hamels has started after going on a winning streak of 16-1 in his previous 17 starts.
The two teams are among the hottest in baseball.
Despite losing on Monday, Houston is 8-2 in its last 10 while trying to overcome a terrible start. Texas is 10-2 in its last 12 games and appearing poised to assert itself in the AL West.
Texas is four games up on Seattle and eight on Houston with a lot of baseball yet to be played.
"The guys battle their butts off," said Texas closer Sam Dyson. "We're playing hard on defense and our pitching is showing up every day."
Rangers pitchers are 7-0 in the team's last nine games with a 2.96 ERA during that span.
Intrigue continues to surround Jurickson Profar, called up to play second base while Rougned Odor served his suspension for punching Jose Bautista in a brawl last month.
His stay at this point appears anything but temporary as the Rangers don't dare consider sending him back to Triple-A Round Rock.
Profar has hit safely in each of his 10 games, including multiple hits in five. He's hitting .370 with starts at second base and designated hitter.
Don't be surprised to see him at first, perhaps as soon as Tuesday, as Mitch Moreland continues to struggle. Profar was getting work there on Monday.