Indians-Rangers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 11, 2012
With their lead in the AL West shrinking, the Texas Rangers should be happy to return home. Facing the stumbling Cleveland Indians will make them feel even better. After their quietest offensive performance of the season, the Rangers look to rebound and continue their home success Tuesday night against the Indians. Texas entered Sunday's game at Tampa Bay with a chance to win its seventh straight series, but instead managed only two singles and three total baserunners against James Shields in a 6-0 loss. That left the Rangers (83-57) with a 6-4 record on their road trip, and they'll open this series with a three-game lead over surging Oakland in the West. "Today definitely wasn't our day, but we're playing well,'' designated hitter Michael Young said. The three-game lead is the Rangers' smallest since they led the Los Angeles Angels by that same margin entering play on Aug. 1. Six consecutive home games against sub-.500 teams Cleveland (59-82) and Seattle give Texas ample opportunity to inch closer to its third straight division title. The Rangers' 43 home wins are tied with Detroit for most in the AL and they've won 11 of 15 in Arlington since the beginning of August. Cleveland will become the final AL team to visit Texas this season after the clubs split the first six meetings at Progressive Field. The Rangers have won 24 of 31 against the Indians, including 10 of 12 at home. Adrian Beltre shouldn't mind seeing the Indians again since he's 9 for 17 with three homers and six RBIs in the season series. He's 4 for 9 with a pair of doubles against scheduled starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Although his nine-game hitting streak came to an end Sunday, the third baseman is still batting .381 with five homers and a 1.252 OPS in the last 10 games. "It's one of my best years, but I still have a long way to go," Beltre told the team's official website. "I've been able to stay consistent, which is one of the things I wanted to do. I wanted to try not to get into deep slumps." Monday's 7-2 loss at Minnesota was the Indians' 20th in 25 games and dropped them into a last-place tie with the Twins in the AL Central. "No one wants to finish last, but we need to show up every day and play the game,'' manager Manny Acta said. "That's the last thing on the back of your head. You just need to get out there and play again. No one wants to finish last, it's not a secret.'' The Indians will attempt to become the third straight team to beat Matt Harrison (15-9, 3.37 ERA), who had his originally scheduled start pushed back two days following a pair of dismal performances. After going 2-1 with a 1.21 ERA in his previous three starts, the left-hander has posted a 9.00 ERA while losing his past two. He matched his shortest start since early May in a 6-3 loss at Kansas City on Tuesday, allowing five runs - three earned - and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. Harrison is 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA in three career starts against the Indians. Jimenez (9-15, 5.58) hopes to avoid adding to his major league-leading loss total. The right-hander lost his third consecutive start and fourth straight decision Wednesday, giving up four runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings in a 7-1 defeat at Detroit. Although he remained winless since Aug. 9, Jimenez had his longest outing in 12 starts and held the Tigers scoreless from the second through the seventh. He is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts against the Rangers this season.
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