Rangers-Twins Preview


With their lineup locked in and their pitchers on a roll, the Texas Rangers are clicking on all cylinders.

The Rangers try to continue their surge as they open a four-game set against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night at Target Field.

After sweeping Seattle over the weekend, Texas (14-7) kicked off this seven-game trip by taking two of three from the Los Angeles Angels. Yu Darvish struck out 11 over six dominant innings while Nelson Cruz and Lance Berkman both homered and combined for seven RBIs in Wednesday's 11-3 win.

The Rangers have gone 18 for 57 with runners in scoring position and outscored opponents 45-17 during their 5-1 run. They've posted a 2.28 ERA and struck out 61 over 55 1-3 innings over that stretch, too.

Cruz has come up especially big over the last seven games, going 9 for 26 with four homers and 12 RBIs.

While things have gone the Rangers way of late, manager Ron Washington appears somewhat concerned about the short turnaround heading into Thursday.

"You just try to catch a nap on the plane," he told MLB's official website. "It's a tough trip with the time change but what are you going to do? It's the schedule, you have to play it. You get in, sleep as long as you can, get up, go to the ballpark and play baseball."

The Rangers have hit .296 in taking nine of 11 from the Twins (9-8), including a three-game sweep in Minnesota last April 13-15.

After beating Miami 4-3 earlier in the day, the Twins saw their five-game winning streak snapped with an 8-5 loss in the nightcap of Tuesday's doubleheader.

Joe Mauer, though, stayed hot with two hits and an RBI, raising his average to .366. The five-time All-Star is batting .444 with two homers and eight RBIs over his last 11 games.

"I've seen him hit his whole career, so we've seen him do this," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We keep saying it's incredible to do this at this level, and it is. He can just rack up those hits, and it's incredible, and that'll never change. He's just an incredible hitter."

Mauer, though, is a career .243 hitter versus Texas - his lowest mark against any AL team aside from Houston, which joined the league this season. He's 5 for 30 over his last nine home matchups in the series.

The Twins look to get back on track behind Vance Worley (0-2, 7.11 ERA), who finally showed signs of coming around Saturday in a 2-1, 10-inning road win over the Chicago White Sox. The right-hander allowed one run and five hits and struck out seven in as many innings.

"I had it figured out," Worley said. "I pitched. It wasn't me trying to overdo anything out there. It was just going after hitters and trusting my mechanics. Thus (it) made pitching a little easier. I was able to command both sides of the plate today and everything broke the way I wanted it to and (I got) better results."

The Rangers counter with rookie Nick Tepesch (1-1, 3.07), who was forced to leave Saturday's 5-0 win over Seattle in the second inning after getting hit by a line drive just above the wrist. The right-hander, though, checked out OK and should be good to go.

"It's kind of sore, but not too bad," he said. "It feels pretty good other than being a little stiff."

In his only road start, Tepesch allowed four runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings of a 4-3 loss at Seattle on April 14.