The Texas Rangers hope to continue their recent mastery of the Minnesota Twins on Thursday when they head to Target Field for the start of a four-game series.
Texas was 8-2 last season versus the Twins and there is no reason to believe that trend won't continue this week, as the Rangers enter this series tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the American League at 14-7 with wins in five of their last six games.
On Wednesday, Nelson Cruz hit a three-run home run in a nine-run fourth inning and Yu Darvish struck out 11 to help Texas get past the LA Angels of Anaheim, 11-3.
Lance Berkman hit a two-run home run and drove in four while Ian Kinsler, A.J. Pierzynski and David Murphy each drove in a run for the Rangers, while Darvish (4-1) scattered just three hits over six scoreless innings to improve to 5-1 against the Angels in his career.
"Another tremendous performance, he had a combination of everything," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "We started getting base hits tonight and Cruz got the big hit. We're playing good baseball."
Heading to the hill for the Rangers on Thursday will be right-handed rookie Nick Tepesch, who had to leave his last start on Saturday against Seattle after just 1 2/3 innings when a line drive struck him on the wrist. He had retired five of the six batters he faced before the incident and is 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA on the year.
"I felt good, I felt strong, I felt comfortable. I felt my stuff was good that night," Tepesch said. "Anytime you feel like that, you try to build on it and take it into your next start."
Tepesch has since thrown a side session and declared himself ready to go.
Meanwhile, getting the call for the Twins on Thursday will be righty Vance Worley, who is 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA, but is coming off his best effort of the season. Worley did not get a decision against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, but was terrific, as he allowed just a run and five hits in seven innings of his team's 2-1 win.
"I was able to command both sides of the plate today, and everything broke the way I wanted it to," said Worley, who has never faced the Rangers. "Better results."
Minnesota split a doubleheader with the Miami Marlins on Tuesday and saw its five-game winning streak stopped with an 8-5 loss in the nightcap.
Joe Mauer had two hits in the loss and is now hitting .366 on the year. Over his last 11 games, Mauer is hitting .444 with two homers and eight RBI.
"I've seen him hit his whole career, so we've seen him do this," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We keep saying it's incredible to do this at this level, and it is. He can just rack up those hits, and it's incredible, and that'll never change. He's just an incredible hitter."
Texas has won nine of its last 11 against the Twins.