Texas second baseman Rougned Odor has shown marked improvement during the past two months, at the plate and in the field, and has been one of the keys to the Rangers' string of mostly good play that has produced wins in five of their past six games.
The run includes a dominating 17-8 victory over Baltimore on Thursday at Globe Life Park in Arlington in the opener of a four-game series between the teams.
The Orioles will try to even the set when they send right-hander David Hess (2-5, 5.94 ERA) to the hill on Friday and Texas will counter with right-hander Ariel Jurado (1-1, 4.22).
On Thursday, Odor was named the Rangers' Player of the Month for July after he hit .341 with a .625 slugging percentage in 24 games, belted six home runs, drove in 12 and scored 18 runs during the month.
He began August with a bang as well, walking five times, scoring three times and blasting a two-run homer in the Rangers' runaway win.
"I'm happy, you know," Odor said Thursday. "I've been working hard all year to play the way I am playing now."
Jonathan Villar, acquired from Milwaukee on Tuesday in the trade that send Jonathan Schoop to the Brewers, had a single in his first-at-bat and ended up with two hits and a run on Thursday in the loss to Texas. Villar batted leadoff and played second base, and is happy for his latest fresh start.
"I feel good because I'm coming to Baltimore, that's a new opportunity to play every day here," Villar told MLB.com. "New team, new guy, it's very personal for me. I'm happy for that."
Villar played in 156 games for the Brewers in 2016 and 122 last year but has been limited to 87 games this season because of a sprained right thumb.
"We'll take a good look at him," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said about Villar. "We'll see if he can take advantage of the opportunity we'll give him."
Hess was recalled July 25 from Triple-A Norfolk, where he made three starts after being optioned on July 6, going 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA. He won his major league debut on May 12 against Tampa Bay and has lost four straight major league decisions.
Hess, who has never pitched against the Rangers, will make his first major league start since June 29, when he allowed six runs and nine hits in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels. He last pitched on Saturday when he threw a scoreless inning of relief against the Rays.
Jurado will make the third major league appearance and start of his career. He will be working on extra days of rest after getting the win in Texas' 7-3 victory on Saturday at Houston, when he became the youngest Ranger to win a road start within his first two major league games.
Juardo has never faced the Orioles. He became, at 22 years, 109 days, the youngest Ranger to make a start for Texas since Martin Perez (22.108) on July 21, 2013 versus Baltimore.