Rangers-Indians Preview

Heading into this season, it seemed highly unlikely that Texas’

four-game set in Cleveland this weekend would have the makings of a

potential postseason preview.

That will be the case, however, as the Rangers look to continue

their recent success against the Indians on Thursday night in the

opener between these division leaders.

While it’s hardly a shock for the reigning AL champion Rangers

(30-26) to have a 1 1/2-game lead in the West, it’s a major

surprise for a Cleveland club that failed to win 70 games each of

the last two seasons to hold a five-game cushion atop the Central

with an AL-best 33-20 record.

“They are a bunch of young guys that (manager) Manny Acta is

just letting play and do what they do,” Rangers manager Ron

Washington told the team’s official website. “They beat you a lot

of ways – stealing bags, beating you with the long ball, beating

you on the mound. They are playing well together.”

Cleveland has proved Washington right by winning the last two of

a three-game set in Toronto to conclude a 3-3 trip.

“I’m pretty happy with the way the guys bounced back and took

two out of three here,”Acta said.

After breaking out for 18 hits in a 13-9 win over the Blue Jays

on Thursday, the Indians try to avoid a season-high third

consecutive loss at Progressive Field.

Cleveland is 19-6 at home, but has lost 11 of 15 against the

Rangers at Progressive. The Indians snapped a seven-game home skid

versus the Rangers last season and are just 3-12 overall versus

Texas since the start of the 2009 season.

Their challenge this weekend does not get any easier against a

Texas club that has won seven of 10.

Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 4.91 ERA) looks to win his fourth

consecutive start for Cleveland in this contest. Though the

right-hander has a modest 4.15 ERA his last three outings, his

teammates have totaled 26 runs during that stretch.

Carrasco allowed two runs in six innings of a 7-3 win at Tampa

Bay on Saturday.

“I put too much pressure on myself and I really need to just

throw a lot of innings,” Carrasco told the team’s official website.

“For me, the focus is to keep the team winning.”

Carrasco will take that same approach into his first start

against the Rangers since he allowed five runs in five innings and

did not factor in the decision of an 11-9 home loss Sept. 8,

2009.

Nelson Cruz is 0 for 2 with a walk and two strikeouts versus

Carrasco, but went 3 for 4 with a RBI in the Rangers’ 3-0 win at

Tampa Bay on Wednesday. The All-Star is batting .429 with four RBIs

his last five games.

Veteran Dave Bush (0-1, 4.43) will make his third spot start of

the season for the Rangers on Thursday in place of Matt Harrison,

who was scratched because of a blister.

The right-hander has not factored in the decision of his

previous two 2011 starts but has 2.57 ERA in those outings. In his

most recent start, Bush allowed three runs in four innings of a

12-5 loss to the Yankees on May 8.

Bush has never faced Asdrubal Cabrera, who went 4 for 6 with

three doubles and three RBIs on Thursday.

The Indians shortstop is batting .333 with six of his

career-high 10 home runs at Progressive Field this season. Cabrera

had 18 homers in 1,415 at-bats in his previous four seasons

entering 2011.