With their five-game losing streak now behind them, the Texas Rangers can focus on closing out the first half of the season on a positive note as they finish up a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at the Ballpark in Arlington.
After winning five straight and six of seven to close out the month of June, the Rangers turned around and fell apart. The squad was outscored by a combined 34-9, including one game against the Chicago White Sox in which they permitted an unsightly 19 runs on Tuesday.
On Saturday the Rangers didn't score any more than just a single run in any one inning, but that's all they needed in the bottom of the 10th as Nelson Cruz doubled home Adrian Beltre to get the squad back into the win column and keep their advantage over the LA Angels for first place in the American League West at four games.
Cruz finished with three hits for the hosts, while Beltre notched his 15th home run of the season and scored three times. The other run came courtesy of Josh Hamilton who, despite being listed as day-to-day with back spasms, stepped up and crushed his 27th home run of the season in the fourth inning.
Back in the rotation for the Rangers was Derek Holland, who made it through six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and a couple of walks while striking out four. Joe Nathan, pitching on eight days' rest, was the one who captured the victory as he pitched two shutout innings, his longest stint in three years, for his first triumph of the season.
"We needed this one bad," Nathan said. "You take eight days off and it's almost like Opening Day again. You're jumpy, you're excited since you haven't been out there in a while. It's nice to be well rested and feel good. But if you talk to most relievers, they would like to be in there consistently."
Making his first major league start on Saturday for the Twins was Samuel Deduno, who made it through 5 1/3 innings, permitting three runs on six hits and a trio of walks. One of six pitchers on the day for the visitors, Deduno struck out three but also allowed the home runs to Beltre and Hamilton.
"They were the pitches I wanted to throw, but the slider to Beltre was a little bit high," Deduno said. "The Hamilton pitch was pretty good, he just hit it hard. He's a pretty good hitter."
Ryan Doumit and Justin Morneau both tallied a pair of hits and a run scored, the former posting two doubles that accounted for all but two of the unit's extra-base hits in the meeting. Josh Willingham tallied his 19th home run of the season for a Twins team that is 11 games out in the AL Central and all alone in last place in the division.
Despite owning an inflated ERA of 7.79 after three games, Roy Oswalt is still searching for his third win in four contests as he takes the hill for the Rangers tonight in Arlington.
The right-hander has only been up with the Rangers since late June and won his first two decisions of the campaign before being shelled by the Chicago White Sox in his most recent endeavor on Tuesday.
In that meeting Oswalt was hammered for 11 runs -- nine earned -- on 13 hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings on the road. The Mississippi native managed to strike out four batters, but that was only one more than he had home runs allowed in the ugly 19-2 matchup.
Oswalt has a record of 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in three previous games in his career versus Minnesota.
As for the Twins, they've decided to roll the dice with rookie hurler Cole De Vries in their final game before the break. De Vries has won his last two decisions but wasn't so lucky on Wednesday when he gave up two runs on three hits in just two innings before being pulled versus Detroit.
Minnesota, which has the worst run differential (minus-86) in all of baseball, has the highest collective ERA in the American League at 4.93. The staff is also last in the league in shutouts with just two and is allowing opposing hitters to bat a staggering .280 against them which is easily the highest mark in the AL at this stage of the season as well.