Rangers-Twins Preview

The balance of the AL wild-card race can shift dramatically for the Minnesota Twins and the Texas Rangers.

After opening this series in walkoff fashion, the Twins attempt to win back-to-back games for just the second time in nearly three weeks Wednesday night against the Rangers.

Minnesota (56-56) is three games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the second wild-card spot, while Texas (55-56) is 3 1/2 back.

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The Twins seemed to be spiraling out of contention, losing 16 of 21 entering this three-game series. However, eighth-inning RBI doubles from Joe Mauer and rookie Miguel Sano set the stage for Eduardo Escobar to complete the rally with a two-out, double in the ninth of Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Rangers.

"That's kind of how we've been all year," starter Kyle Gibson said. "We lost it there for a little bit here in the second half, but we're looking to get it back and definitely going to finish strong here in the next couple months."

The Twins are turning to Mike Pelfrey (5-7, 4.06 ERA), who's 0-5 with a 6.22 ERA in his last 10 starts. However, he's 0-2 with a 2.52 ERA in five home games while being backed by seven total runs over that stretch.

The right-hander, though, only had himself to blame Friday, surrendering seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 10-9 win at Cleveland.

Pelfrey is 0-2 with a 7.02 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers but they've all been in Texas. He was hammered for eight runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings of an 11-7 loss there June 13 in the first start of his current winless streak.

Pelfrey has struggled with Prince Fielder, who is 10 for 28 with three homers and two doubles off him.

The first baseman raised his average to an AL-best .327 after his third straight two-hit game.

Elvis Andrus went 2 for 4 with a two-run homer Tuesday and is hitting .333 over the past 11 games. He's 6 for 16 with two homers and six RBIs in four meetings with Minnesota this year.

The Rangers have dropped three of four following a 7-1 stretch.

Now, they're looking for Nick Martinez (7-6, 3.91) to carry his recent home success onto the road, where the right-hander is 0-3 with a 9.14 ERA over his last four starts.

He's allowed three runs in 11 1-3 innings while winning his last two games - both at home. He yielded one run and one hit in five innings of a 4-3 win over Houston on Wednesday.

Martinez has no record and a 4.97 ERA in two starts against the Twins, giving up three runs in seven innings of a 4-3 home loss June 14.

He'll try to slow down Mauer, who is 2 for 6 off him and 6 for 15 in the past four games.

Sano is batting .333 in 17 home games since being recalled from Double-A Chattanooga last month.

"Hopefully we ride that bike and the wheels don't fall off until October," right fielder Torii Hunter said.