The Texas Rangers are trying to move closer to a third straight AL West title. A series loss to arguably the worst team in the league isn't going to help them get there.
With their division lead its smallest in a month, the Rangers will try to avoid consecutive losses to the Cleveland Indians in Sunday's finale.
Texas opened its 10-game road trip with a 5-3 victory Friday before wasting home runs from Adrian Beltre and David Murphy in a 4-3 loss Saturday. Beltre continued his torrid pace with three hits, but the Rangers lost for the fourth time in 14 games and had their lead in the West sliced to three over streaking Oakland."It's not always the best team that wins, but the team that plays the best," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "They're all major league teams and tonight they made the four runs they scored in the first stand up."
The three-game advantage is Texas' slimmest since it led the Los Angeles Angels by that same amount entering play on Aug. 1.
Beltre is 20 for 40 with seven homers, six doubles and 15 RBIs in his last 10 games.
Carlos Santana drove in two in a four-run first inning for Cleveland (56-77), which won its first game of September after matching the team record for losses in a month with a 5-24 August.
Three relievers combined to toss 3 1-3 scoreless innings, with Vinnie Pestano getting the final four outs for his first save of the season."The bullpen was terrific," manager Manny Acta said. "To stop these guys is huge. At any moment (the Rangers) can turn around the score."
A victory in the finale would give Acta's club its first series win since July 24-26 against Detroit.
Cleveland hopes to have All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera available after he was a late lineup scratch Saturday with a sore right wrist. Cabrera, mired in a 2-for-31 slump, entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth.
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus got a rare start at designated hitter and had an infield single in the eighth inning. That was enough to extend his hitting streak versus the Indians to 28 games - the longest against one opponent in team history.
Scheduled Texas starter Derek Holland (9-6, 4.90 ERA) has also experienced success against the Indians. The left-hander, who hails from Newark, Ohio - a little more than two hours south of Cleveland - is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA in four career starts versus the Indians, going 1-0 with a 0.55 ERA in two outings at Progressive Field.
Holland wasn't at his best against Tampa Bay on Monday but was good enough to win a second consecutive start. He allowed five runs - three earned - and six hits in six innings of a 6-5 victory.
One of the few Indians with any success against Holland is Santana, who is 4 for 10 with a homer and a double in their matchups.
Zach McAllister (5-5, 3.82) looks to rebound from one of his worst performances of the season. The right-hander allowed four earned runs or fewer in 15 straight starts before he was tagged for five runs and a career high-tying nine hits - including two homers - over 4 1-3 innings in Tuesday's 7-0 loss to Oakland.
The Indians have supported McAllister with only 2.74 runs in his last eight starts, and he's lost four of five decisions during that span.
|August 31, 2012||Tyler Tufts||15-Day DL||Surgery, perforated bowel|
|August 30, 2012||Robbie Ross||15-Day DL||Strained left forearm|
|August 28, 2012||Nelson Cruz||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left elbow|
|August 22, 2012||Yu Darvish||Day-to-Day||Right quad tightness|
|August 11, 2012||Mike Napoli||15-Day DL||Strained left quadriceps|
|August 05, 2012||Elvis Andrus||Day-to-Day||Left game - shoulder soreness|
|August 27, 2012||Roberto Hernandez||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained right ankle|
|August 13, 2012||Josh Tomlin||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|August 13, 2012||Jason Kipnis||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|August 06, 2012||Travis Hafner||Day-to-Day||Back soreness|
|August 06, 2012||Travis Hafner||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|June 30, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||60-Day DL||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Jurickson Profar took his major league debut in stride. To the highly touted 19-year-old for the Texas Rangers , he was just playing another game of baseball with a new group of teammates.
Profar hit a home run in his first at-bat and doubled the next time up Sunday as Texas thumped the Cleveland Indians 8-3.
"I guess it's a pretty big thing," a smiling Profar said, his hair and neck covered in shaving cream from a celebratory "pie" administered by teammate Elvis Andrus .
"I was just a little bit nervous, but I'm with a lot of great players, so I just went out and played," he said.
Profar was a late substitute after second baseman Ian Kinsler was scratched with a stiff back. Profar opened the third inning with a drive over the right-field wall, connecting on a 2-1 pitch from Zach McAllister (5-6)
"I was thinking, `Go, go, go, go,' after I hit it," said Profar, who got the souvenir ball back.
Profar doubled in his next at-bat, then was late to hit in the fifth. With Luis Martinez on first with a single, Profar wasn't even in the on-deck circle. Suddenly, he grabbed a bat, ran to the plate and flied out on the second pitch.
"Mother Nature called," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He got a couple hits and maybe his stomach realized what was happening."
Josh Hamilton , Adrian Beltre and David Murphy all hit solo home runs in the Texas fifth.
Derek Holland (10-6) gave up two runs over seven innings as the AL West-leading Rangers took two of three in the series. Texas matched its best record through 133 games, having also gone 79-54 in 1999.
"Texas is probably the best team in baseball, period," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "The guy hitting ninth today (Profar) could be in the middle of the order for most teams. And how do you get the ball through the infield with the guys they have playing there? They should go very deep, if not back to the World Series, again this year."
Cleveland dropped to 6-29 since July 27.
Profar went 2 for 4 as the first player born in 1993 to play in the majors. He became the youngest major leaguer to hit a homer since current teammate Adrian Beltre did it in 1998 for the Los Angeles Dodgers , also at age 19.
"It was a special day for a special kid," Washington said. "This kid is blessed. He's got a bright future, but let's not put him in the Hall of Fame yet."
He's already in the Rangers' record book as the first player to homer his first time up in a Texas uniform. The last player to do it in franchise history was Brant Alyea for the Washington Senators in 1965. The Senators moved to Texas in 1972.
Profar is the third-youngest player in Rangers history behind pitchers David Clyde and Wilson Alvarez . He hit .281 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs at Double-A Frisco and homered in the Futures Game in July in Kansas City during All-Star week.
"This kid is not afraid," Washington said, who talked to Profar when Kinsler came up ailing.
"He asked me how many games I have played at second base," said Profar, who has played more at shortstop. "I told him and he said, `OK, you're in the game, playing second.'
"I was kind of shocked, but I was also ready for it."
Andrus had three hits. He has hit in all 29 of his career games against Cleveland.
After Profar's homer, the Rangers sent seven more batters to the plate in the third. Nelson Cruz had an RBI double and Murphy a two-run single to make it 4-0.
Carlos Santana 's two-run homer, his 14th, got Cleveland within 4-2 in the bottom half.
Thomas Neal got his first hit, an RBI double in the eighth in his debut for Cleveland to make it 8-3.
Hamilton lined the first pitch of the fifth into the seats in right for his 37th homer. Beltre followed with his 27th - and eighth in 11 games. It was the third time this year the duo homered in consecutive at-bats. One out later, Murphy hit his 13th.
"That's what we needed," Washington said. "We had to break out and show our authority. We did it the way we are capable.
Holland won his third straight start. The left-hander also moved to 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five career starts against Cleveland.
McAllister gave up 11 hits and seven runs over five innings, falling to 1-4 with a 6.08 ERA over his last seven starts. Cleveland's starting staff has a 6.55 ERA, worst in the majors in the second half - the biggest reason for the Indians' 12-37 record since the All-Star break.
NOTES: Profar is the third teenager to homer in his first at-bat, joining the Giants' Whitey Lockman in 1945 and Reds' Ted Tappe in 1950, the Elias Sports Bureau said. ... Washington's 506th win tied Johnny Oates for second in Rangers history behind Bobby Valentine (581). ... Texas is 50-36 all-time at Progressive Field, the second-highest winning percentage (.581) of any team. The New York Yankees are at .633 and Cleveland is .553. ... Texas begins a four-game series Monday in Kansas City. RHP Yu Darvish (13-9) faces Royals LHP Bruce Chen (10-10).