Kevin Kouzmanoff’s production at the plate has been a big part of the Texas Rangers’ three-game win streak. He likely won’t be returning to the minors any time soon.
Kouzmanoff looks to continue his hot hitting Friday night, while Martin Perez will try to build on his best start of the season when the Rangers open a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox.
Kouzmanoff was out of the majors for two years before being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock by Texas (9-7) last week to replace slugger Adrian Beltre, who is on the disabled list with a left quadriceps injury.
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The journeyman third baseman is certainly making the most of another shot in the bigs. A .255 hitter with Cleveland, San Diego, Oakland and Colorado from 2006-11, Kouzmanoff is batting .414 with five doubles, six RBIs and as many runs scored while getting at least one hit in each of his eight games with the Rangers.
His stunning production continued Thursday with two doubles, a pair of runs and an RBI in an 8-6 win over Seattle that gave Texas a 3-1 series win.
"You never know what can happen in baseball," Kouzmanoff said. "Here I am. It’s great to be back."
Perez (2-0, 2.70 ERA) is also enjoying a strong start with each of his three outings ending in victories for Texas. His knack for forcing double plays has been vital.
The left-hander yielded five hits in eight innings of Sunday’s 1-0 win over Houston, inducing four double plays. That came five days after he got five in 6 1-3 innings of a 10-7 win at Boston.
"That happens when you throw all your pitches down and you get a lot of groundballs," Perez said. "If you can throw strikes with runners on base, you can get a win, you can get the outs. You have to make a pitch and trust your stuff."
Perez got plenty of run support in his only career start against the White Sox on Aug. 23. He gave up four runs and eight hits in seven innings of an 11-5 road victory.
Chicago (8-8) is trying to avoid matching its season-high three-game slide after falling 3-1 at home to Boston on Thursday.
The White Sox may need to plate a few more runs since they’re expected to give the ball to Felipe Paulino (0-1, 7.98), who owns the highest ERA of any AL pitcher who has tossed at least 14 innings.
The right-hander was battered again Saturday, surrendering six runs while half of the six hits he gave up left the park in five innings of work. However, the offense did spare him taking the loss in a 12-6 defeat against Cleveland.
"I’ve been fighting a lot executing my pitches (the) last couple of games," Paulino said. "But I miss a lot of spots. … My slider comes sometimes, but I’m looking for consistency."
He hasn’t had much in two career starts versus Texas, allowing seven runs and 17 hits in 11 1-3 innings while failing to get a decision. However, the right-hander yielded only one hit in 4 1-3 innings of relief early in a 12-7 road win in 14 winning while with Kansas City on May 27, 2011.
Alexei Ramirez is batting .381 with four homers and 14 RBIs, while his season-opening 16-game hitting streak is a franchise record. The shortstop, who singled Thursday, has a .354 average while getting at least one hit in 12 straight meetings with the Rangers.
It’s unclear if Jose Abreu will be back in the lineup after he grounded to third as a pinch-hitter Thursday. The first baseman is 1 for 21 in the last six games, dropping his season average 87 points to .213.