That is especially true for the Angels, who enter this series 5 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics in the American League West and can't afford to lose any more ground.
"I think it will be the normal four games," outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. said. "They've got something to play for, and I expect us to go out and play the way we usually play. It always seems our games with the Angels have an edge. I like that and I'm sure both teams like the competition. Sometimes it makes for more drama and theater."
If so, the opening act was on Aug. 6 in Anaheim, when Rangers pitcher Adam Eaton was thrown out of a game for throwing behind Juan Rivera right after Garret Anderson had hit a home run. When they two teams met again on Aug. 15-16 in Arlington, Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla was ejected in the first game after hitting Vladimir Guerrero and Rivera.
Tensions rose higher the next day. Angels pitcher Kevin Gregg hit Michael Young, and the Halos' Brendan Donnelly hit Freddy Guzman in the eighth inning.
Both were ejected. Scott Feldman then hit Adam Kennedy in the ninth, clearing both benches and ultimately resulting in eight uniformed personnel being suspended for a total of 31 games.
"We never had any issues with the Angels until that incident," Young said. "They're still very much in the thick of things. Their players are focused on trying to win games and that's how we want to finish the season."
At the same time, pitching coach Mark Connor doesn't want his pitchers to change their approach out of fear of getting something started again.
"We don't want to change anything," Connor said. "You still pitch inside, you still pitch outside. You don't go out there with the mindset of: 'I better not get close to anyone.' You still have to throw inside to be successful getting people out on the outside part of the plate."
Young marches toward marks:
Young has two significant batting milestones in sight.
He went into Wednesday's game needing five more hits to reach 200 for the season. It would be the fourth straight year he has had at least 200 hits. Young also has 48 doubles, two shy of the Rangers record set by Juan Gonzalez in 1998.
Young said such things will mean more after the season is over.
"At this point, the last thing I'm thinking about is achieving milestones, because if I reach one, I still don't want to stop," Young said. "I want to keep going and when the season is over, I'll look back and be happy with what I've done."
Catcher Rod Barajas remains sidelined with soreness in his back. Barajas reported more improvement on Wednesday and could be back in the lineup on Thursday against the Angels.
Matt Stairs also started at designated hitter for the second time in three games with right-hander Justin Verlander on the mound for the Tigers. That left rookie Nelson Cruz on the bench.
One reason is that the Tigers are still in a pennant race, and Showalter wanted to make sure he put his most competitive lineup on the field. That could hold true for the four-game series with the Angels.
"I'm not going to let Nelson sit too long," Showalter said. "This is a nice opportunity for him, but you also want to be fair to Oakland and put our best team on the field."
Outfielder Eric Young is expected to rejoin the Rangers on Thursday after missing two games because of family business, and reliever Feldman could be back by the weekend. He is serving a six-game suspension but is also tending to personal matters as well. ... Showalter said he would like to get third-string catcher Miguel Ojeda at least one start before the season is over.
Right-hander Edinson Volquez pitches at 7:05 p.m. CT on Thursday against the Angels in the first of a four-game series at Ameriquest Field in Arlington. Kelvim Escobar pitches for the Angels. The Angels have won seven of 12 games against the Rangers this year.