American League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, August 31st (All times eastern)
Texas Rangers (77-53) at Cleveland Indians (55-76), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Texas - Ryan Dempster (3-1, 5.46) Cleveland - Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13, 5.58)
(Sports Network) - The Cleveland Indians did not do the Texas Rangers any favors earlier this week.
After getting swept by the Rangers' closest rival in the AL West, the Tribe open up a three-game series on Friday night with the current division leaders.
Cleveland dropped its fifth straight contest on Thursday, the last four of those coming to the Oakland Athletics. The Rangers, who were idle, saw the A's get to within four games of first place in the division with a 12-7 victory over the Indians.
Shin-Soo Choo knocked in three runs for the Indians, who have lost 14 of their past 15. Justin Masterson was tagged for eight runs on eight hits and two walks in four-plus frames.
"I thought I was making some decent pitches today at times," Masterson said. "Then you look up and realize it's not where it's supposed to be. It's definitely perplexing to say the least."
Though they lost a bit of their edge for first place, the Rangers probably still enjoyed Thursday's off day after playing 20 games in 20 days. Friday, they begin a 10-game, 10-day road trip coming off just their second loss in eight games.
Texas lost the finale of a three-game set on Wednesday 8-4 to the Tampa Bay Rays, who got home runs from Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Elliot Johnson.
Josh Hamilton hit his 36th homer for the Rangers, and Matt Harrison was touched for seven runs on 12 hits and a walk over 5 1/3 frames.
"Executing early in the game, I wasn't able to do that," Harrison said. "The home runs killed me tonight."
Ryan Dempster makes his sixth start tonight for the Rangers since being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. He has been a mixed bag since the deal, going 3-1 with a 5.46 earned run average.
Dempster has allowed three runs in the three wins while yielding 16 in the other two outings.
The 35-year-old righty did win his second straight start on Saturday in a matchup with the Minnesota Twins. He gave up two runs on eight hits and a pair of walks over six frames, striking out seven.
Dempster, who is 8-6 with a 2.99 ERA in 21 total starts this season, is enjoying being in a pennant race.
"It's just more exciting when you know you're going out there every day with that feeling that you're going to win a ballgame," Dempster said. "It nice to play for something, and not try to spoil someone else's season. It's a lot of fun, and I'm happy to be here, and I just try and do my part when I'm asked to."
Dempster is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA in three lifetime meetings, including two starts, versus the Indians, who he hasn't faced since 2006 in relief.
Getting the call for the Tribe will be right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who lost for the sixth time in seven decisions on Sunday versus the New York Yankees.
Jimenez tossed five innings in the 4-2 setback, yielding three runs on eight hits and a walk. He dipped to 9-13 in 26 starts this season with a 5.58 ERA.
"I just couldn't find the strike zone or a good rhythm in the beginning," said Jimenez. "But after three innings or so I felt a lot better and was able to get some outs and keep it close."
The 28-year-old would love to duplicate his second career outing versus the Rangers, which came on May 6. Jimenez scattered two hits and five walks over seven scoreless innings of that one, logging a 4-2 triumph.
The Rangers won nine of 10 versus the Indians last season, including all four at Cleveland, but the Tribe won two of three when the teams met in Cleveland from May 4-6.
08/31 10:48:17 ET