With a rotation churning out impressive outings and a lineup consistently producing hits, the Texas Rangers are in a groove.
They used one rookie starter to shut down the Minnesota Twins in their series opener, and they'll try to do the same with another Friday night in the second of a four-game set at Target Field.The Rangers (15-7) have won six of seven with Thursday's 2-1 victory, the fifth time in seven contests they've recorded 10 hits or more. Rookie Nick Tepesch turned in the team's fifth quality start over that stretch, in which the starting staff owns a 2.25 ERA.Tepesch was perfect through four and ended up allowing five hits in 6 2/3 innings, only surrendering a run on Josh Willingham's homer in the seventh. He was also responsible for a rare 0-for-3 night for Joe Mauer, just the fifth time in 18 games the .351 hitter has gone without a hit.Mauer, Willingham and Justin Morneau went a combined 2 for 11 against the right-hander."Their two, three, four hitters are about the best you'll see in Major League Baseball," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Going through them three times, he did a good job."Texas, which is looking for its 11th win in the last 13 meetings and fifth straight victory in Minneapolis, turns to another rookie when it sends out Justin Grimm (2-0, 2.70 ERA) for his third start as a replacement for the injured Matt Harrison. While both of Grimm's outings came against Seattle, which ranks at the bottom of baseball in most offensive categories, he limited the Mariners to two runs and six hits over six innings in Sunday's 11-3 win."He was able to make good pitches at the right time, he kept the ball down and changed speeds and threw the ball the way he is capable," Washington told the team's official website.Minnesota (9-9), having lost two straight after a five-game winning streak, will counter with left-hander Scott Diamond (1-1, 4.35 ERA).After allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings against the New York Mets in his season debut, Diamond yielded two runs and four hits in six innings in a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday."I was just back down in the zone. That was the biggest focus after last game," he said. "I was able to just locate down with most of my stuff."Diamond will face the unenviable task of trying to slow down Nelson Cruz, who went 2 for 3 with an RBI Thursday.Cruz is 8 for 18 (.444) with 12 RBIs over his last five games, and also 16 for 42 (.381) with eight doubles over his last 10 against Minnesota.Cruz didn't record a hit in his only previous at-bat against Diamond, who was ejected early in his lone start against Texas last season for throwing a pitch behind Josh Hamilton's head. The Rangers collected two runs and three hits and two walks in Diamond's 2 1/3 innings.