Rangers-Blue Jays Preview
Beltre and the Rangers will try to keep the top spot in the AL West on Friday night when they meet the Blue Jays for the first of seven matchups over the next 10 days.
Second on the team to Nelson Cruz with 13 homers and 36 RBIs, Beltre has batted .435 with four home runs and eight RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak. He went 3 for 4 with a homer in a 6-3 loss at Boston on Thursday.
Manager Ron Washington is expected to keep the third baseman off Toronto's artificial surface and in the designated hitter spot for this series. Beltre hit .387 with a homer with five RBIs against Toronto last season, when Texas won six of nine matchups.
Jeff Baker, who hit a two-run homer Thursday, or Leury Garcia will likely take Beltre's spot in the field.
The Rangers are 4-6 in their last 10 games, blowing a 3-0 lead and losing on David Ortiz's three-run walkoff homer Thursday. Washington elected to walk Dustin Pedroia to pitch to Ortiz.
With their division lead over Oakland down to one-half game after the surging Athletics won again Thursday, the Rangers (36-23) could use a solid start from Nick Tepesch (3-4, 3.44 ERA) in the opener.
The rookie right-hander has posted a 2.12 ERA in his last three starts but has no wins to show for it, as Texas has totaled five runs in those games. In his last start, Tepesch gave up one unearned run in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-1 loss to Kansas City on Saturday.
He didn't issue a walk for the first time in six outings.
This will be the first time Tepesch faces the Blue Jays (25-34), who are back home for three games before beginning another seven-game trip that concludes at Texas.
They finished a 3-4 road stretch with a 4-0 victory over San Francisco on Wednesday.
"It seems like we've been gone a couple of weeks," manager John Gibbons told the Blue Jays' official website. "With an off-day (Thursday), it'll be big."
Esmil Rogers (1-2, 3.77) will make his second start as the Blue Jays continue to look for stopgaps for their injury-plagued rotation.
In the right-hander's last start - his first since 2011 with Colorado - he allowed three hits and two walks while striking out four over 3 1-3 innings of a 3-0 win at Atlanta on May 29.
Rogers, who tossed two scoreless innings in a 7-4, 11-inning victory at San Diego in his last appearance Sunday, has faced Texas four times - all relief appearances in 2012 while with Cleveland.
Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays' leader with 17 homers and 48 RBIs, hit four home runs and drove in eight against the Rangers last season. He's expected to be back at first base after shifting to third for the final five games of the trip.
Chris McGuiness is expected to make his major league debut at first for the Rangers with Mitch Moreland going on the disabled list Thursday with a strained left hamstring.
"He's a first baseman ... natural," Washington told the team's official website. "That's all that matters. It's not what he can do offensively. All that matters is he can move around that bag and do what needs to be done."
Texas won two of three in its last visit to Toronto from Aug. 17-19.