The Texas Rangers are looking forward to a few days off with the All-Star break looming. They've been scuffling some and are battling injuries, especially to their pitching staff, so the Midsummer Classic couldn't come at a better time.
But before the American League West leaders can kick their heels up, the Minnesota Twins are coming to town for four games. The series opener is Thursday night at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
These are the only four home game for the Rangers (53-33) in a span of 23 games overall. Texas just came off a 4-6 road trip that ended with Wednesday night's 11-6 loss at Boston and heads out on a nine-game trip after the break.
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The Rangers committed three errors in the second inning Wednesday, allowing the Red Sox to break the game open.
"Not the way we wanted to end the road trip," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said, "but it will be nice to get back home, get to Arlington, show up tomorrow, and hopefully put together four quality baseball games before the break and allow these guys to have some time off their feet."
Texas is 28-12 at home and 12-0-1 in its last 13 home series. The Rangers still own a (7.5 or 6.5-game) division lead over Houston.
Minnesota (29-55) won two out of three against the Rangers last weekend at Target Field to snap Texas' streak of 13 straight series victories. The Twins have also claimed five of the last seven between the clubs.
"It's necessary for us to regain some momentum," Banister said. "Obviously it's nice to be able to try to do it in our ballpark.
"We didn't play so well against Minnesota. We've got to play better against that ballclub. They look to be playing a little bit better right now. It's nice that we saw them recently, so we know what to expect."
Minnesota is coming off Wednesday afternoon's 4-0 home shutout of Oakland, and have won four of their last five. The Twins technically beat the A's twice Wednesday, as Tuesday night's 11-4 victory ended after 1 a.m. due to a long rain delay.
Getting back on the field about 11 hours later and winning again wasn't lost on manager Paul Molitor.
"It was one of those games where you're challenged as a professional to be out there and give it your best effort even when your body is telling it's being pushed a little bit," he told MLB.com. "So to win two games in situations we're not usually accustomed to was a good sign. We had a good homestand and had a chance to win all six games."
The Twins are 12-9 against the AL West, compared to 11-39 against the rest of the AL this season.
Minnesota sends right-hander Tyler Duffey (4-6, 5.62 ERA) to the mound for the series opener. The right-hander leads the team in wins and beat Texas on Saturday after allowing four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and no walks over 6.0 innings.
Duffey was backed by plenty of offense in the 17-5 victory. Texas righty Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-1, 9.53) was on the losing end of that one and didn't get out of the first inning.
The Rangers' defense didn't do Gonzalez any favors, failing to make several plays that could have resulted in outs and ended the inning much sooner.
Texas starters have taxed the bullpen lately with short outings. Gonzalez going deep into the game would be a big help.
Minnesota, making its only trip of the season to the Lone Star State, should get back shortstop Eduardo Escobar during the series. He ran sprints before Wednesday's game at Oakland to test his strained left hamstring.
"He's doing better," Molitor told MLB.com. "When he got hurt, everyone thought going on the DL would be too long."
Escobar was injured running the bases Saturday, but didn't go on the disabled list.
Texas made a roster move Wednesday by recalling outfielder Jared Hoying for insurance reasons with Shin-Soo Choo dealing lower back stiffness. Nomar Mazara started in right field in place of Choo against the Red Sox.