With spectacular performances becoming the norm for Texas, the American League West-leading Rangers gun for their fourth straight win and the seventh in the last eight outings Saturday afternoon as they play the third of a four-game set against the Minnesota Twins in Arlington.
As if leading the division by six games over Oakland were not enough to grab the headlines, the Rangers seemed to do it all on Friday as starting pitcher Matt Harrison held the Twins hitless through seven innings but was still overshadowed by Adrian Beltre, who hit for the cycle just days after connecting on three home runs in a single game en route to a convincing 8-0 victory last night.
Beltre, who became just the second player in major league history to achieve both feats in a span of a week, now has two cycles for his career, the other coming in 2008 when he was a member of the Seattle Mariners and had three hits off Harrison.
Harrison, who became the first Rangers pitcher since Jim Bibby in July 1973 to have consecutive starts with allowing just two hits through eight innings, struck out five and walked two as he picked up his 15th win of the campaign.
"I felt really good," Harrison said. "I definitely didn't feel in command as much of my fastball as my last start, but I was able to keep it down in the strike zone. My offspeed stuff was some of the best I've had all year, and I was able to put them away when I had them down two strikes."
While Harrison was the star on the mound for the hosts, Beltre stole the spotlight at the plate as he notched his first triple of the season and 24th home run of 2012. Now hitting .316 on the campaign, Beltre has crushed five home runs and knocked in nine in just his last three games after plating just three runs in his previous 12 contests.
Ian Kinsler was one of five other Texas batters to have at least two hits, his resulting in a couple of RBI for the Rangers as they moved to 40-23 at home.
Minnesota, which is last in the AL Central and 10 games under .500 (27-37) on the road, has lost four in a row and is 18 1/2 games off the pace in the division. Samuel Deduno was tagged for seven runs on 11 hits over five innings, failing to record a single strikeout along the way as he suffered his second loss of the season.
Ryan Doumit, Trevor Plouffe and Jamey Carroll all registered singles to account for the three hits produced by the Twins.
Canadian-born Ryan Dempster is set to make the start for the home team this afternoon in Arlington, his fifth for the Rangers since coming over from the Chicago Cubs.
Bouncing back from an awkward outing against the New York Yankees a few weeks back, the right-hander permitted just a single run on four hits and a pair of walks, striking out six through eight innings in a 5-1 victory against Baltimore earlier this week.
A winner in two of his last three games, Dempster has a career mark versus Minnesota of 1-1 with a hefty 7.62 ERA.
Stepping to the mound for the visitors on this day is Brian Duensing, a Kansas native who has been both a starter and a reliever for the Twins this season.
The left-hander began the season with a 1-6 record but has managed to split his last four decisions, the most recent contest coming against Oakland on Monday when he allowed just one earned run on five hits and struck out seven over six innings, en route to a 7-2 road victory.
Against Texas in his career Duensing, who gave up two runs on just a single hit over 1 1/3 innings versus the Rangers earlier this season, has a record of 2-4 with a 4.10 ERA.
Texas, which has lost the season series against the Twins in each of the previous three campaigns, is in complete control of the relationship this time around with seven wins in eight opportunities. A team which is struggling with a power failure at the plate, Minnesota is second-to-last in the AL in home runs entering Saturday with just 107, three ahead of Kansas City.