Rangers-Twins Preview

No one has posted more shutouts than the Texas Rangers, who did just enough to win their last time out.

They’ll try to add to the Minnesota Twins’ woes as these teams conclude a four-game set at Target Field on Thursday.

Texas (27-26) has taken six of eight after winning 1-0 on Wednesday for its major league-leading 10th shutout. Joe Saunders came off the disabled list to throw five strong innings and rookie Luis Sardinas drove in the only run with a two-out single in the seventh.

Minnesota (24-26) has hit .187 and scored 10 runs during a 1-5 stretch. Trevor Plouffe, who batted third Wednesday, has gone 3 for 22 over that span while leadoff man Brian Dozier is 2 for his last 18.

Joe Mauer has hit .200 with no homers and two RBIs in his last 10 games and heard it from the home fans after going 0 for 4 on Wednesday.

"I’m probably a lot more frustrated than those people that were booing," said Mauer, who missed some time with back trouble earlier this month. "I feel pretty good actually, which is even more frustrating. I’m hitting a lot of balls hard and just not having much to show for it. So hopefully that turns here soon.

"Just got to try to have some good at bats, keep having good at-bats and hopefully they start falling."

The Twins will try to break out against Rangers rookie Nick Martinez (1-1, 2.14 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA in four starts. He’s managed to limit the damage despite posting a 9:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 22 innings in those outings.

"I’m convinced that I can go out and do it," he said. "I think that’s what separates major leaguers and minor leaguers, is that complete trust that they have in themselves."

The right-hander yielded one run over six innings Saturday, earning the win in a 12-2 victory at Detroit.

"Martinez is absolutely fearless, which against a team like that can be good or bad," catcher Chris Gimenez told MLB’s official website. "He challenged them and made pitches when he needed to. He wasn’t afraid of them."

Martinez will be opposed by Samuel Deduno (1-3, 3.48), who allowed two runs and a season-high three walks over 5 2-3 innings of Saturday’s 2-1 loss at San Francisco. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.97 ERA in four starts since replacing an ineffective Mike Pelfrey in the rotation.

"You earn your spots up here and he’s definitely doing that," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Deduno, who’s limited opponents to a .220 average as a starter. "I don’t think anybody, if he keeps pitching like that, is going to take his spot in the rotation."

Deduno went 0-1 with an 8.71 ERA in two starts against the Rangers in 2012, both of which came in Texas. Adrian Beltre went 5 for 6 with two homers, a triple and a double in those matchups.

While Beltre is 2 for his last 12, Alex Rios is batting .426 with seven extra-base hits, eight RBIs and nine runs during an 11-game hitting streak. Rios has also recorded at least one hit in seven straight against Minnesota.