Twins-Rangers Preview

Adrian Beltre continued his torrid stretch by producing more

offense by himself than the entire Minnesota Twins roster the last

time out.

Depending on which version of Ryan Dempster shows up Saturday,

the host Texas Rangers seem to be in good shape for their ninth win

in the last 10 meetings with Minnesota.

Beltre hit for the cycle and drove in three runs in Texas’ 8-0

win over the Twins on Friday, improving to 12 for 18 with five

homers, three doubles and a triple over his last four games.

Matt Harrison took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and

struggling Minnesota managed only three hits as the AL West-leading

Rangers (74-51) won for the sixth time in seven games.

“We want to be hot the whole year,” Beltre told the team’s

official website. “It’s not like we pick spots. Of course, it’s

probably better if you heat up toward the end of the year. You want

to keep swinging the bat good going into the playoffs.”

Texas has won eight of nine versus Minnesota, and Dempster will

try to help continue that run with another dominant performance

against the Twins.

Dempster (2-1, 6.04 ERA) allowed four hits in eight scoreless

innings of an 8-2 victory over Minnesota while pitching for the

Chicago Cubs on June 10, but he’s been inconsistent overall since

being acquired by the Rangers at the non-waiver trade deadline.

The right-hander allowed eight runs in his first and third

starts, though he tossed 6 2-3 scoreless innings of a 6-3 win over

Boston on Aug. 7 before allowing one run and four hits in eight

innings of a 5-1 victory over Baltimore on Sunday.

“That’s what he’s capable of doing,” manager Ron Washington

said after Dempster’s most recent outing. ”He’s not an

overpowering guy. He has to execute his pitches, and (Sunday) he

executed. As long as he executes them, he’s going to be fine.”

Minnesota has been anything but fine of late, dropping 13 of 15

and scoring one or zero runs in three of its last four. Trevor

Plouffe’s single with two outs in the seventh ended Harrison’s

no-hit bid.

”Pretty much dominated by the young left-hander (Harrison) over

there. He pretty much ate us up,”’ manager Ron Gardenhire said.

”We were pretty much a non-factor in the game today. They pretty

much dominated.”

Starting pitchers for the AL-worst Twins (51-74) have a 6.16 ERA

during their slump, and Brian Duensing will try to improve that

number Saturday.

Duensing (3-8, 4.46) is 2-6 with a 5.68 ERA in nine starts,

though he limited Oakland to two runs – one earned – in six innings

of a 7-2 win Monday.

“I’m feeling more comfortable,” Duensing told the team’s

official website. “I’ve had a couple shaky innings here and there,

but I thought tonight I was able to make some good pitches in key

situations.”

The left-hander is 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in four career starts

versus the Rangers, and has held Texas slugger Josh Hamilton to

three hits in 14 at-bats (.214).