Twins-Rangers Preview

Texas Rangers starter Scott Feldman hasn’t received much support

lately.

That’s somewhat hard to believe considering how the two-time

reigning AL champions have been hitting the ball.

Feldman will try to avoid a fourth consecutive losing start

Sunday when Texas goes for a fifth straight victory overall and its

first four-game home sweep of the Minnesota Twins in 25 years.

Feldman (6-9, 4.77 ERA) hasn’t been particularly effective

during his personal skid with 12 runs allowed over his last three

starts, but the Rangers (75-51) haven’t given him much room for

error, supporting him with a total of five runs – and only one in

Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to Baltimore.

That contest was the only defeat in the last eight games for

Texas, which is batting .373 and averaging 9.8 runs during its 4-0

surge.

Led by Ian Kinsler’s three-hit effort, which included a leadoff

homer and a bases-clearing triple, the Rangers pounded out 14 hits

in Saturday’s 9-3 victory to improve to 8-1 against the Twins

(51-75) this season.

“We’re swinging the bat pretty well,” said first baseman Mitch

Moreland, who contributed a three-run homer to extend his hitting

streak to eight. “One through nine, there are no breaks.”

That doesn’t bode well for Sunday’s starter Cole De Vries (2-5,

4.89), who will get the ball as Minnesota tries to finish a 10-game

trip with two wins. If that doesn’t happen, the Twins will get

swept in a four-game set in Arlington for the first time since June

26-28, 1987, seven seasons before the current Rangers Ballpark

opened.

The Twins have struck out 42 times and totaled 11 runs during a

five-game skid, and have scored a total of two runs for De Vries in

his last three outings – all losses.

The rookie right-hander threw 5 2-3 innings of two-run ball in

Tuesday’s 4-1 loss at Oakland, leaving after throwing a career-high

112 pitches.

“I think overall it was a pretty good outing,” De Vries told the

Twins’ official website. “I was a little disappointed with myself

in the first couple of innings because I was trying to be too fine.

That allowed me to get into too many deep counts and throw too many

pitches.”

Possibly the best start of De Vries’ brief career came at Texas

on July 8, when he limited the powerful Rangers to three hits in

seven scoreless innings but the Twins went on to lose 4-3 in

12.

Feldman, who worked two innings of scoreless relief in that

contest to earn the victory, is 1-1 with a 5.01 ERA in four starts

versus Minnesota, with the last coming in 2009.

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau went 4 for 4 on Saturday –

including the club’s first homer in eight days – to lift his

batting average to .346 (9 for 26) in six games in Arlington this

season.

Josh Willingham, the Twins’ leader with 31 homers and 91 RBIs,

is 1 for 16 at Texas in 2012 after going 0 for 4 on Saturday

following a two-game absence with a stiff neck.

Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre also went 0 for 4 – the only

Ranger without a hit – but he’s still batting .436 (17 for 39) off

Twins pitching this season.

He went 0 for 2 with a walk against De Vries last month.