Rangers-Indians Preview

Texas’ Alexi Ogando and Cleveland’s Justin Masterson got off to
sizzling starts on the mound this year. Only one, though, has been
able to remain unbeaten into June.

Ogando will look to move to 6-0 while Masterson hopes to put a
dismal May behind him as the Rangers and Indians continue their
four-game set at Progressive Field on Friday night.

A converted reliever now in his second year, Ogando (5-0, 2.33
ERA) has emerged as a star on Ron Washington’s team. The
right-hander has allowed two runs or less in eight of his 10 starts
while pitching at least six innings in all of them.

Ogando, who will try to start 6-0 after Tommy Hunter opened 8-0
in 2010, is thankful to be in this position.

“Sometimes I don’t know how to express things, but this is like
a blessing from God. That’s what it is. Every inning I’m learning
more, getting more experience and getting more comfortable on the
mound,” he told the Rangers’ official website Sunday before facing
Kansas City.

His unbeaten string stayed intact, but he failed to get a win
after allowing a season high-tying five runs and seven hits in six
innings of the Rangers’ 7-6 victory.

In two games against Cleveland last season, Ogando allowed only
a solo homer in 2 1-3 innings.

Masterson (5-3, 3.07) hopes to recapture the success he enjoyed
in April, when he was 5-0 with a 1.71 ERA. In six starts last
month, the right-hander was 0-3 with a 3.79 ERA.

His worst game in that stretch came Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Masterson gave up seven runs and walked five in five innings of the
Indians’ 7-0 road loss, but manager Manny Acta wasn’t dismayed.

“He’s only got one shaky outing and it’s today,” Acta said.
“Obviously didn’t have a good outing, but he’s been money for us so
far.”

That’s not been the case when facing Texas. Last year, Masterson
was 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in two starts versus the AL champions.

Texas (31-26) opened the series Thursday with a 7-4 victory, its
fifth in six games, as ninth-place hitter Endy Chavez went 4 for 4
and scored twice.

Chavez tore two knee ligaments playing with Seattle in 2009 and
played in a handful of games in the Rangers’ minor league system
before hurting his knee last June. In 12 games since being recalled
from Triple-A on May 14, Chavez has had multiple hits in six of
them, and is batting .415.

”I had my doubts,” Chavez admitted about making a comeback.
”It was tough. I had to stay strong (mentally) and I thank the
Rangers for their support.”

Matt LaPorta hit his eighth homer for the Indians (33-21), who
have dropped a season-high three straight in Cleveland but still
have the AL’s best home record at 19-7.

”We didn’t swing the bats particularly well,” Acta said. ”We
didn’t pitch very well and we didn’t play very good defense
either.”

Cleveland will try to avoid its ninth loss in 10 home games to
Texas.