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A few things to keep an eye on this week

The Rangers return from a highly successful road trip to face the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros in a six-game homestand starting tonight. A few things to watch:

* Josh Hamilton continues his assault on June's triple crown. He leads the majors with a .474 average, seven homers and 25 RBIs. ESPN Stats & Information has this note should Hamilton be able to maintain this incredible pace for the remainder of the month:

Since the Rangers moved to Texas in 1972, only 2 MLB players have done .474, 7, 25 over a FULL calendar month : Todd Helton (.476, 7, 32) in July, 2000 and Richard Hidalgo (.476, 11, 31) in September, 2000.

Hamilton has a 16-game hitting streak, the longest active one in the majors. He'll try to keep that going this week. (And maybe he can also put together another week worthy of player of the week honors. He didn't get it last week, for some odd reason. But he already has won one week in June and is looking for another).

* Lost in Hamilton's exploits were those of Julio Borbon, who was 12-for-31 with three doubles, six runs scored and four walks in the nine-game road trip. Can he continue to produce here at home? Borbon was the leadoff hitter on Sunday with Elvis Andrus getting a break, but if Borbon can keep getting on base, it gives the Rangers an important speed dimension in the lineup with Andrus at the top and Borbon at the bottom. That kind of speed allows Texas to put even more pressure on the opponent.

* Justin Smoak sure looks like he's figuring things out after a slow start. He has 20 RBIs in the June and was 7-for-14 with two homers, two doubles and eight RBIs against the Astros. After batting .187 in May, Smoak is hitting .318 in June with 63 percent of his RBI total this season coming in the month. He's had six multi-hit games. He has 21 strikeouts, but also 11 walks and .416 on-base percentage, well ahead of his .336 average this season.

* The Rangers are on an eight-game winning streak. If they get to nine, it would be the longest such streak since May 20-31, 2005 (nine games).

* What does Colby Lewis do for an encore? He got his first complete game in the majors with a 2-hitter on Saturday in Houston. His next start comes against the Astros this weekend. The two hits were the fewest allowed by a Texas pitcher in a complete game since Doug Davis' two-hit shutout on April 11, 2002. He also had no walks in the complete game with nine Ks, the first Ranger pitcher to do that since Aaron Sele on Aug. 7, 1999. So keep an eye on Lewis and how he does after that sensational start.

* The Rangers' bullpen has allowed six earned runs in its last 37 innings, an ERA of 1.46 in the last 12 games (34 strikeouts and 10 walks). They are a perfect 5-for-5 in save chances in that span as well.

* Nelson Cruz returns from the DL. He was solid after his first DL stint and the Rangers hope he can pick up where he left off.

* We'll be live in-game chatting during the homestand, starting tonight. So join us!