Rangers-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

The Texas Rangers' offense appears to be more than fine without Prince Fielder - at least for now.

The Minnesota Twins are hoping a return home will help them find a spark of their own.

Texas looks to continue its surge and move back above .500 for the first time in two weeks in Monday's series opener at Minnesota.

The Rangers (25-25) found out Thursday that Fielder would be sidelined for the rest of the season with neck surgery scheduled for Tuesday. They responded by outscoring Detroit 35-15 while taking three of four on the road against the American League's top club. Texas, which hasn't been over .500 since May 12, is averaging 6.1 runs and hitting .303 while going 5-3 since the five-time All-Star last played.

Alex Rios hit his major league-leading fifth triple and drove in three runs in Sunday's 12-4 victory, while Adrian Beltre was 3 for 4 with two RBIs. Rios is 14 for 36 with eight RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak and Beltre owns an OPS of 1.138 while hitting safely in 11 of 12.

"Everybody on this team has contributed so far, has stepped up in one way or another," said Mitch Moreland, who was 3 for 5 with three RBIs and is assuming everyday duties at first base in place of Fielder. ''I think this was just a big series for us overall, to kind of right the ship, get it going.''

Minnesota (23-24) is trying to avoid what would be a season worst-matching four-game skid after being swept in San Francisco. The Twins were 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position during the series and have totaled six runs and 19 hits in their last four contests.

Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki and Brian Dozier - the club's No. 2-4 leaders in RBIs - are a combined 6 for 41 over the past four games. Minnesota batters struck out 13 times in Sunday's 8-1 loss, with Joe Mauer rung up on strikes three times for just the second time this season.

The Twins have been faring much better at Target Field, hitting .300 and averaging 4.8 runs while winning six of eight. Dozier owns an OPS of 1.098 in 11 home games this month with 11 RBIs.

The return of Josh Willingham may also provide a boost. Willingham, whose 158 RBIs led the Twins over the past two seasons, is expected to be activated from the disabled list after not playing since April 6 due to a hairline fracture in his left wrist.

Chris Colabello, Minnesota's leader with 30 RBIs despite being hitless in his last 23 at bats, was sent to Triple-A Rochester following Sunday's loss.

Unlike Minnesota's offense, starter Kevin Correia (2-5, 6.52 ERA) has had a particularly tough time at home, going 1-3 with a 7.62 ERA in five outings.

He was solid in a 5-3 win at San Diego on Tuesday, yielding three runs and four hits over six innings.

The right-hander has posted a 1.64 ERA in winning all three of his starts versus Texas.

The Rangers' Nick Tepesch (1-0, 3.09) defeated the Twins the only time he saw them as a rookie, allowing just a seventh-inning homer to Willingham in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-1 victory on April 25, 2013.

The right-hander has struck out 12 in 11 2-3 innings in two starts this year since being recalled from Triple-A. Tepesch was 4-6 with a 4.84 ERA in 19 games for Texas last season.

"He has an out pitch right now," manager Ron Washington said. "He's got that slider working, and he's able to locate his sinker. With that going on and commanding the baseball, I think there's the difference right there."

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