Indians-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers' high-powered offense is a major reason for their AL-best record and why they're a strong favorite to reach a third straight World Series.

Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton have been among their most productive hitters, but neither will be in the lineup Thursday night when Texas seeks a three-game sweep of the visiting Cleveland Indians.

Beltre continued his torrid stretch with a two-run homer - his 32nd - in the first inning of Wednesday's 5-2 win over Cleveland, improving his average to .396 over his last 12 games.

Hamilton added to his major league-leading totals by driving in a run in the first and homering in the third, giving him 41 homers and 121 RBIs.

Neither slugger finished the game, though. Beltre left in the fifth inning with a strained left shoulder he suffered while making a diving stop in the second, and Hamilton exited prior to the eighth with left knee soreness.

Both players will not start this game. Beltre underwent an MRI that revealed slight inflammation and is day-to-day. Hamilton received an injection for his knee and could return Friday for the Rangers, who have scored 725 runs this season - by far the most in the majors.

"Hopefully, things won't last long with those guys," manager Ron Washington said. "But we certainly can't stop the season, so we're going to play with what we've got and we're going to expect to win."

Texas (85-57) has won nine of its last 11 at home as it tries to fend of surging Oakland in the AL West, and it will look to win its seventh straight home meeting against the Indians with help from Derek Holland.

Holland (10-6, 4.59 ERA) has been solid over his last four starts, going 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA. He gave up one run and two hits while striking out a career-high 11 in eight innings against Tampa Bay on Friday, but the Rangers fell 3-1 in 11 innings.

''I'm very happy with the way Derek is pitching,'' Washington said. ''I know if he continues to pitch the way he did (Friday), he'll get the results and we'll get the results.''

That's certainly been the case for Texas when the left-hander takes the mound versus Cleveland. It has won each of his five career starts against the Indians, with Holland going 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA.

He gave up two runs - one earned - in 7 1-3 innings of the Rangers' 5-2, 11-inning win May 5, then allowed two runs in seven innings of an 8-3 victory Sept. 2.

Zach McAllister took the loss in Holland's most recent win over the Indians, giving up seven runs and 11 hits - including four homers - in five innings of his only career start against the Rangers.

McAllister (5-7, 4.31) dropped his third straight start Saturday, allowing two runs and walking three while throwing 87 pitches in three innings of a 3-0 loss to Minnesota.

''Zach just had way too many pitches in three innings,'' manager Manny Acta said. ''He couldn't put guys away. He had 10 out of 15 hitters with two strikes and only ended up with one strikeout. In those situations, four of those guys ended up getting on base.''

Shin-Soo Choo had two hits Wednesday for Cleveland (59-84), which has lost five straight and 22 of 27.

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