Twins-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Texas' Adrian Beltre believes he has figured out what caused his power slump over the last month.

That can't be what the Minnesota Twins want to hear.

Coming off a three-homer performance, Beltre looks to continue to feast on Minnesota pitching and help the AL West-leading Rangers beat the Twins for the sixth time in seven games in Thursday night's opener of a four-game series.

Texas (72-51) made quick work of Baltimore on Wednesday, scoring nine times in the fourth inning en route to a 12-3 victory, its fourth win in five games. Mitch Moreland hit his first grand slam while Beltre homered twice in the pivotal fourth after also going deep to lead off the second. Both players finished with five RBIs.

Beltre increased his season home run total to 22 - becoming the ninth third baseman with 10 seasons of at least 20 - after homering just once in his previous 29 contests.

"I've been kind of struggling for a couple of weeks,'' Beltre said. "I've been working in the cages trying to find a comfort zone with my feet and hands.

"The last three days I stuck with something," he added.

The three-time All-Star appears to have a good shot of building on Thursday's success in this series. Beltre has hit safely in 12 consecutive games against the Twins, batting .408 with two homers, five doubles and 13 runs scored.

The Rangers are 5-1 against Minnesota (51-72) this season. Nelson Cruz has also played a big role in that success, batting .478 with six doubles in his last five contests in the series.

Texas, which has plated at least 10 runs in three of its last seven games overall, will get its first look at Scott Diamond (10-5, 2.95 ERA), Minnesota's leader in wins and ERA.

The left-hander gave up two runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings Saturday at Seattle, not factoring in the decision of a 3-2 defeat.

Diamond has either received more than enough run support or far too little in his seven starts since the All-Star break. He has received 39 runs of support in three wins, but has been backed by 10 total runs in his other four outings.

It's hard to predict what kind of support he'll get when the Twins face the inconsistent Roy Oswalt (4-2, 6.04), who has 12.38 ERA in three of his starts for Texas and a 1.54 ERA in the other four.

The right-hander is taking the ball for his second straight spot start, this time replacing the injured Yu Darvish (right quadriceps tightness). Oswalt filled in for Ryan Dempster (personal issues) on Saturday, and allowed one run, two hits and two walks in 4 2-3 innings of Texas' 2-1 victory over Toronto.

Oswalt was solid in his lone start of the season against the Twins on July 8, yielding one run and five hits in 5 2-3 innings in a 4-3, 13-inning win. He could be in line for another fine showing based on the current state of Minnesota's offense.

The Twins have lost 11 of 13, and in their last six defeats they've totaled nine runs while batting .180. Minnesota had anemic showings while losing its final two games in Oakland this week, singling four times in a 4-1 loss Wednesday and finishing with three hits in Thursday's 5-1 defeat.

Joe Mauer, 4 for 20 in his last five games, is batting .227 against Texas in 2012.