As the Texas Rangers make their push toward the postseason, Cole Hamels knows he must be better than he's looked for his new team.
The left-hander tries a fourth time to earn his first victory with the Rangers on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Texas (63-59) is 15-7 since news broke that Hamels (0-1, 5.23 ERA) was acquired from Philadelphia, but the three-time All-Star hasn't looked nearly as dominant as the pitcher who tossed a no-hitter at Wrigley Field in his final start for the Phillies on July 25. Though Hamels has lasted at least six innings in each outing for the Rangers, he's recorded one quality start and allowed five homers.
''Being able to go out there and make quality pitches is something that I haven't been able to do here for the past couple of weeks,'' he said. ''That's something I definitely have to work on.''
His sense of urgency might be greater after the Rangers moved into the AL's second wild-card spot with Saturday's 5-3 win over Detroit and a loss by the Los Angeles Angels to Toronto.
After his turn in the rotation was skipped due to a sore groin, Hamels gave up three runs, seven hits, walked four and struck out eight in seven innings of Monday's 4-3 victory over Seattle. Though the veteran expected more of himself, manager Jeff Banister liked Hamels' grit.
"That's the mark of a veteran pitcher ... a true mark of a guy who knows how to pitch," Banister told MLB's official website. "After coming back from his groin issue, to do what he did to limit the damage, he kept the game in a spot where we could do what we did. That was really a solid job."
Hamels, whose only other start against Detroit (59-63) came in 2013, tries to help Texas take this four-game set with a third consecutive victory. Yovani Gallardo threw six scoreless innings and Adrian Beltre had three hits Saturday.
''This is when baseball gets fun,'' Gallardo said. ''It's fun to go out there and compete and know the fact that it's a must-win every time. It's a must-win every day.''
Beltre was 1 for 16 in the previous four games before breaking out.
With a homer for one of his two hits, teammate Rougned Odor is batting .381 in the last six contests.
Odor, Mitch Moreland and Robinson Chirinos each hit solo homers off Matt Boyd (1-3, 7.66) on June 27 when the left-hander gave up four runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings during a 4-0 loss in his major league debut while pitching for Toronto. Part of the July 30 deal that sent David Price to the Blue Jays, Boyd pitched 2-3 innings of relief in Wednesday's 15-8 rout of the Chicago Cubs, but is ready to make his sixth career start.
He has yielded eight runs and 15 hits over 10 1-3 innings to go 0-1 in his last two starts - both on the road - after he allowed a run in seven innings of a 2-1 home victory over Kansas City on Aug. 5 in his Detroit debut.
Since going 0 for 3 in his return Aug. 14 from missing more than a month with a calf strain, Detroit star Miguel Cabrera is batting .556 with a homer and seven doubles in the seven games that have followed. He's 6 for 8 with a home run and two doubles against Hamels but hasn't faced him since 2007.
Teammate Ian Kinsler is hitting .478 with two homers and six RBIs in the last five games.