Marlins-Rangers Preview

Josh Hamilton is still tormenting the Florida Marlins, and now

his teammates are also doing more than their share.

Hamilton and the Texas Rangers will try to improve to 5-0

against the Marlins over the last two seasons when this three-game

series continues Saturday night in Arlington.

Texas (44-39) swept three games at Florida (36-46) last season

as Hamilton went 7 for 12. He went 2 for 2 with two walks in

Friday’s 15-5 victory, but was far from the biggest star at the

plate as the Rangers finished with 15 hits.

“This is a hitting club over here,” Florida manager Jack McKeon

said. “You can’t mess around with them.”

Nelson Cruz had a three-run homer and matched a career-high with

six RBIs on his 31st birthday. He also duplicated his RBI total

from his previous eight games.

“It was a good birthday,” Cruz said.

Adrian Beltre added three hits and four RBIs for Texas, which

posted its highest run total since Sept. 26, against Oakland.

Beltre has 18 RBIs in his last 21 games, and 61 for the season.

Elvis Andrus scored three runs, and is 3 for 7 in two games back

at shortstop after missing four with a sprained left wrist.

Texas led 7-0 after four innings and by nine after six.

“It was one of those games you run across occasionally,” McKeon

said. “You get the hell beat out of you. Some night we’ll do the

same to somebody else. I don’t know when. Hopefully soon.”

Florida, however, is an NL-worst 9-14 against left-handed

starters and will face Derek Holland (6-3, 4.68) for the first time

Saturday. Holland is 1-4 with a 4.64 ERA in seven career

interleague starts, including 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in two this

year.

The southpaw was charged with seven runs – three earned – and 12

hits over six-plus innings of Sunday’s 8-5 loss to the Mets. He

failed to record a strikeout for the second time in three starts,

although he also did not issue a walk after throwing 67 of 103

pitches for strikes.

“The main thing is I threw a lot of strikes and didn’t have many

walks,” Holland told the Rangers’ official website. “I just did a

poor job of keeping down the damage.”

McKeon is expected to give rookie left-hander Brad Hand (0-3,

3.45) his fourth career start, and first since June 17. Hand was

sent to the minors three days after that outing, in which he

allowed three runs over 4 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss at Tampa

Bay.

The 21-year-old Hand went 7-1 with a 3.53 ERA in 11 starts for

Double-A Jacksonville before making his major league debut June 7

against Atlanta in place of the injured Josh Johnson (right

shoulder inflammation).

Florida is 4-5 since McKeon took over after Edwin Rodriguez

resigned June 20. The Marlins struck out 13 times Friday and have

fanned 44 times in their last four games.

Mike Stanton is hitting .300 (9 for 30) under McKeon, although

he has struck out a major league-high 14 times in that stretch.