Rangers-Twins Preview

The Texas Rangers are continuing to put up big offensive numbers without slugger Prince Fielder, and they might need to keep doing so Tuesday night now that Yu Darvish has been scratched.

With Minnesota’s Phil Hughes looking to win his sixth straight decision, Scott Baker goes on three days’ rest in place of Darvish as the visiting Rangers go for their sixth win in seven games while sending the Twins to their longest skid of the season.

Since learning Thursday that Fielder would likely be sidelined for the season with a herniated disc in his neck, Texas (26-25) has stepped up with 42 runs and a .349 batting average while winning four of five to open its season-high 11-game trip.

The Rangers have posted a double-digit hit total in all four victories after pounding out 11 in Monday’s 7-2 victory in the opener of this four-game set at Target Field.

Elvis Andrus had three hits and two RBIs, while Alex Rios and Chris Gimenez added two hits apiece. The red-hot Rios is 13 for 27 with five RBIs over six straight multihit games.

"Early in the season everything didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” Andrus said. ”At the same time, we still trust in each other and we knew there’s a lot of baseball left. Everyone is feeling well right now as a team.”

Texas will try to continue that production for Baker after Darvish was scratched Tuesday afternoon from this scheduled start due to a stiff neck. It’s similar to what the ace right-hander experienced in spring training, and he started the season on the disabled list. It will be determined if another DL stint is necessary after he gets an MRI later in the day.

Baker (0-1, 6.35 ERA) has spent most of the season in the minors. His only appearance for Texas had been 5 1-3 innings of relief May 3, when he allowed two runs to Colorado, before starting Friday at Detroit. The veteran right-hander was tagged for six runs and allowed two homers in six innings of a 7-2 loss.

Baker has never faced the Twins (23-25), who haven’t scored more than two runs while going 2 for 28 with runners in scoring position over its last five games.

Brian Dozier is 2 for 20 overall in his last five games, while Jason Kubel has gone hitless in 14 at-bats over his last five.

Trevor Plouffe homered and Eduardo Escobar had two hits Monday as Minnesota dropped its fourth in a row. Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia couldn’t provide a lift after coming off the disabled list, going a combined 1 for 7.

”It takes a little time, a little different pitching up here than down (in Triple-A)," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

The Twins hope to get things turned around at the plate as Hughes (5-1, 3.15) tries to be their streak-stopper. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA in his last six starts, and Minnesota won the lone game he did not receive a decision.

Hughes scattered seven hits and struck out seven over seven innings in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at San Diego. He’s gone 147 batters without issuing a walk and has given up one run over 20 innings in his last three outings.

”He’s in that mode where he just trusts his stuff,” Gardenhire said. ”He’s relaxed a little bit now and he just feels it coming out of his hand.”

Hughes has gone 2-2 with a 1.76 ERA in five career starts versus Texas. He’s done a nice job against Shin-Soo Choo (1 for 7), Andrus (1 for 13) and Adrian Beltre (4 for 20), but Rios is 11 for 24 with a homer.

Choo hopes to return to left field after serving as the designated hitter the last two games with a sore left ankle.