The Texas Rangers are coming off a much-needed day off. Facing the rested AL West leaders is the last thing the Cleveland Indians need. The Rangers' Ryan Dempster looks for a third straight impressive start Friday night as he tries to extend the Indians' longest home losing streak of 2012. Coming off a 7-3 stretch in Arlington, Texas (77-53) begins its 10-game trip with a four-game divisional lead over surging Oakland, which defeated the Indians 12-7 on Thursday. While Cleveland manager Manny Acta could be on the hot seat following his team's 14th loss in 15 games, Texas manager Ron Washington is eyeing a third straight West title.
Dempster (3-1, 5.46 ERA) has to be enjoying where he's at. The Rangers, who lead the majors with 670 runs, have scored 27 in Dempster's 31 1-3 innings since he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 31. The right-hander had 45 runs of support in 104 innings with Chicago. This is what seperates the winners from the losers. Dempster is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last two starts - both at home - and will face the Indians (55-76) for the first time since a 2006 relief appearance while with Chicago. While Dempster is starting to find a home in Arlington, Ubaldo Jimenez (9-13, 5.58) continues to struggles for the Indians. The former All-Star is 13-17 with a 5.43 ERA since arriving from Colorado last season. Jimenez has the league's worst ERA among qualifying starters, but one of his best outings of the season was May 6 against Texas. He worked around five walks to throw seven shutout innings in a 4-2 home win.
The Rangers, winners of 11 of 12 in Cleveland before losing two of three there May 4-6, will face an Indians team trying to avoid its first six-game home losing streak since a seven-game slide May 24-June 6, 2011. Josh Hamilton, whose .406 batting average (26 for 64) at Progressive Field is his best at any ballpark where he's had at least 13 at-bats, tied Adrian Beltre for a Rangers-best six homers during the just-completed 20-game stretch.
Take note of this very expensive price that has been climbing in sync with the game total all afternoon. Texas is hitting .278 collectively and are amongst the leaders in production thanks to their 178 HR along with their 5.2 runs per contest. Hamilton (.292 36 112) came out of the gate in triple crown fashion but was slowed by the ASB due to injuries and inefficiency since recently finding his stroke once again. Adrian Beltre (.311 25 81) leads the team in hitting and is batting .520 with 5 HR over his last 6 games. While a relatively down year for Nelson Cruz (.264 21 78), he is still putting up respectable numbers at the very least. Same holds true for Ian Kinsler (.267 16 65) and it wouldn't hurt the Rangers to see Mike Napoli back in action. The catcher (.223 17 40) isn't due to come off the DL until mid-September. Mitch Moreland (.296 15 45) has also been hampered by injuries but has produced in key situations when given the playing time. Jimenez will need to be efficient this evening while receiving run support from the team who owns the major's worst mark since the ASB. Cleveland is hitting around .250 collectively but has not been able to produce timely hits. It's hard to believe howeve rthat Shin Shoo Choo (.277 15 52) leads the Tribe in HR after cracking just 3 with most of the first half elapsed. Asdrubal Cabrra (.271 14 53) got off to a great start in the first half but has not been consistent at the plate since. Even Jason Kipnis (.255 13 65) was around the .280s at one point but has struggled despite leading the team in RBI. The team does have overall balance up and down the lineup but in addition to their pitching woes have not helped themselves. Texas continues to maintain their AL West lead and should hammer Jimenez this evening while Dempster may give up a few being prone to work himself into jams pitching on the road this season. Best of luck however you play!