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Twins-Rangers Preview

AP - Sports

The Texas Rangers have allowed five runs or fewer in 26 straight games, and that's a streak Yu Darvish figures to help continue Friday night.

Baseball's strikeout leader gets ready to face a struggling Minnesota Twins team that strikes out often in the opener of a three-game home set.

Texas (78-55) has posted a 3.09 ERA during this 26-game run since July 31 after recording a 3.77 ERA in its first 107 contests. It's the longest such streak in club history and longest in the majors since the Los Angeles Dodgers did it 31 games in a row Aug. 10-Sept. 12, 2009. It's the longest AL streak since 1972.

Darvish (12-5, 2.68 ERA) will try and conclude an unbeaten August in which he is 3-0 with a 2.23 ERA and 53 strikeouts over 36 1-3 innings to take his season total to 225.

"We expect him to perform and he expects to perform," manager Ron Washington told the Rangers' official website. "Some days it happens, some days he has to fight and battle through it. But he's been able to do it both ways."

The Rangers have dropped his last two outings, with Darvish yielding two runs over seven innings last Saturday with 11 strikeouts in a 3-2 walkoff loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Darvish has faced the Twins once, yielding two runs over 5 2-3 innings and not getting a decision in a 6-2 victory April 14, 2012, his second big-league start.

Minnesota (57-75) has struck out 1,135 times for the AL's second-highest total. The Twins have totaled six runs and fanned 49 times during a five-game losing streak.

The Rangers, who lead the AL West by three games over Oakland, are back home after a 4-2 trip capped by a three-game sweep in Seattle with Wednesday's 12-4 rout. They are seeking to win 20 games in a month for the first time since going 21-6 in June 2010.

Texas isn't taking anything for granted this weekend even though Twins star Joe Mauer won't travel to Arlington due to a concussion. These teams split four games April 25-28 in Minnesota.

"All those young kids are starting to perform better and starting to compete," Washington said. "Minnesota Twins teams usually compete well. They're so young. They have a couple of veterans, but for the most part they are a young team. But they will give you a tough time."

The Rangers have faced Minnesota starter Liam Hendriks (0-2, 6.20) once. The right-hander allowed one run over six innings and did not get a decision in a 4-3 loss April 15, 2012.

Hendriks matched a career high by surrendering seven runs over 4 1-3 innings in last Saturday's 7-2 loss at Cleveland. He was recalled to take the rotation spot of the ineffective Kyle Gibson, who was sent to Triple-A Rochester last week.

Hendriks will face a tough matchup against Adrian Beltre, the AL's top hitter in August with a .400 average - his same mark during an eight-game streak.

Justin Morneau is in a 1-for-23 slump and Josh Willingham a 4-for-34 rut for the Twins, who lost right fielder Wilkin Ramirez to a bruised left shin in Thursday's 3-1 defeat to Kansas City.

"It's a tough time of the year,'' said bench coach Terry Steinbach, who filled in when manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the second inning.

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