Orioles-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

With Nelson Cruz continuing his impressive power display and Adam Jones looking fully recovered from a slow start to the season, the Baltimore Orioles' offense looks menacing.

Rookie right-hander Nick Martinez draws the unenviable task of trying to slow them down Wednesday night for the Texas Rangers.

Cruz was hitless in his first three at-bats against his former club Tuesday before connecting for a three-run homer during Baltimore's six-run eighth. Adam Jones also went deep for the seventh time this year and matched a career high with four hits in an 8-3 victory.

Cruz, who started in left field after leaving Sunday's 9-4 win over Houston with a bruised left hand when he was hit by a pitch, was received in mostly positive fashion by the Texas crowd after spending his previous eight seasons there. He increased his major league-leading home run and RBI totals to 21 and 55, and is batting .447 with nine homers and 18 RBIs in his last 14 games.

"When he's hot, he's hot," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I think we've all seen that. There isn't anything Nelson is doing that surprises me. Nothing at all."

Jones' homer was his first in 14 games, though he owns an OPS of .913 over his last 26 after posting a mark of .613 in his first 30.

J.J. Hardy is also hitting .400 over his last 15 games while Nick Markakis is 13 for 35 during an eight-game hitting streak.

The Orioles (29-27), who have outscored Texas 31-12 during a six-game winning streak, are batting .336 with 21 runs while winning three straight overall. They had previously scored 11 during a four-game skid.

Baltimore will try to extend its run against Martinez (1-1, 2.75 ERA), who was vulnerable his last time out. He was charged with four runs and nine hits - both season highs - over 5 2-3 innings in Thursday's 5-4 win at Minnesota, but did not receive a decision.

Rookies are 1-4 with a 4.25 ERA in eight starts against the Orioles this season.

The Rangers (29-29) have nine runs in their last four games and were carried offensively by Adrian Beltre on Tuesday as he continues to feast on Baltimore pitching. Beltre, who was 3 for 4 with his sixth homer, is batting .393 with 11 home runs, seven doubles and 24 RBIs over his last 20 matchups.

He's 0 for 3 against Baltimore starter Bud Norris (3-5, 4.04), who comes off an extra two days of rest after the Orioles modified their rotation due to an idle Monday. Norris is 1-2 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts with six-plus days' rest this year.

The right-hander is 1-3 in his last four starts and yielded four runs for the third time in that span his last time out, throwing six innings in last Wednesday's 8-3 loss at Milwaukee. Norris still owns the top ERA in the Orioles' unimpressive rotation. The Baltimore starters' ERA of 4.39 is among the worst in baseball.

Norris won his lone start against Texas, allowing two runs over 5 2-3 innings in a 1-0 victory with Houston on March 31, 2013.

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