The Texas Rangers are coming off a much-needed day off.
Facing the rested AL West leaders is the last thing the Cleveland Indians need.
The Rangers’ Ryan Dempster looks for a third straight impressive start Friday night as he tries to extend the Indians’ longest home losing streak of 2012.
Coming off a 7-3 stretch in Arlington, Texas (77-53) begins its 10-game trip with a four-game divisional lead over surging Oakland, which defeated the Indians 12-7 on Thursday.
While Cleveland manager Manny Acta could be on the hot seat following his team’s 14th loss in 15 games, Texas manager Ron Washington is eyeing a third straight West title.
The Rangers are hardly a lock to make that happen - seven of their last 10 games are against the Athletics - but Washington likes where they’re at following a stretch of 20 games in as many days.
“If we can continue to win series, we’ll be right where we want to be,” he said following Wednesday’s 8-4 loss to Tampa Bay.
Dempster (3-1, 5.46 ERA) has to be enjoying where he’s at. The Rangers, who lead the majors with 670 runs, have scored 27 in Dempster’s 31 1-3 innings since he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 31.
The right-hander had 45 runs of support in 104 innings with Chicago.
“It seems like these guys are putting up five runs in an inning almost every day,” Dempster told the Rangers’ official website after going six strong innings in Saturday’s 9-3 victory over Minnesota. “I know they’ve always done a good job offensively, but you still have to execute your game plan, whether you get one run or 10 runs.”
Dempster is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last two starts - both at home - and will face the Indians (55-76) for the first time since a 2006 relief appearance while with Chicago.
While Dempster is starting to find a home in Arlington, Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13, 5.58) continues to struggles for the Indians. The former All-Star is 13-17 with a 5.43 ERA since arriving from Colorado last season.
“He’s been inconsistent, period,” Acta said after Jimenez yielded three runs over five innings in Sunday’s 4-2 home loss to the New York Yankees.
Jimenez has the league’s worst ERA among qualifying starters, but one of his best outings of the season was May 6 against Texas. He worked around five walks to throw seven shutout innings in a 4-2 home win.
It was the right-hander’s first start versus Texas since his Indians debut Aug. 5, 2011.
The Rangers, winners of 11 of 12 in Cleveland before losing two of three there May 4-6, will face an Indians team trying to avoid its first six-game home losing streak since a seven-game slide May 24-June 6, 2011.
Josh Hamilton, whose .406 batting average (26 for 64) at Progressive Field is his best at any ballpark where he’s had at least 13 at-bats, tied Adrian Beltre for a Rangers-best six homers during the just-completed 20-game stretch.
Beltre is 1 for 6 off Jimenez, while Hamilton, who has 36 homers and 112 RBIs, has one hit in five at-bats against the right-hander.