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.
|April 20, 2013||Nick Tepesch||Day-to-Day||Left game - right arm bruise|
|April 11, 2013||Justin Miller||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|April 07, 2013||Matt Harrison||15-Day DL||Inflamed nerve in lower back|
|April 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||Day-to-Day||Left game - blister|
|March 24, 2013||Neftali Feliz||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Joakim Soria||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|April 16, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Back contusion|
|April 16, 2013||Darin Mastroianni||15-Day DL||Stress reaction in left ankle|
|March 30, 2013||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 24, 2013||Tim Wood||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff strain|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Diamond||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Justin Grimm is making the most of his opportunity with the Texas Rangers .
Grimm pitched seven shutout innings to win his second consecutive start and the Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 on Friday night for their seventh victory in eight games.
Filling in for injured starter Matt Harrison , the 24-year-old Grimm allowed five hits, struck out four and walked none. The right-hander pitched six innings of two-run ball in an 11-3 victory over Seattle on Sunday.
Grimm's solid outing against Minnesota came one night after fellow rookie Nick Tepesch held the Twins to just one run.
"They have certainly been guys in our organization we've had a spotlight on, and because of the injuries opportunity presented itself," manager Ron Washington said. "We expect them to step up because they can pitch. I'm not going to sit here and say we knew exactly what we were going to get, but we knew they weren't afraid."
Lance Berkman , Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler each had an RBI double for the Rangers, who finished with 13 hits. Adrian Beltre hit a solo homer in the sixth inning.
Joe Ortiz started the ninth for Texas, but was pulled allowing a pair of hits and striking out Chris Parmelee . Joe Nathan struck out Trevor Plouffe before rookie Oswaldo Arcia hit a three-run homer to get the Twins within one.
Nathan then got Ryan Doumit to fly out to earn his eighth save.
Grimm (2-0) and Tepesch have been solid since Texas lost Colby Lewis to right elbow surgery and Harrison was sidelined by an inflamed nerve in his lower back. The two have combined to go 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA this season.
"They know they have the potential to get guys out and that's what they're doing," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We trust in every guy who comes here and pitches. Either here or minor leagues, our mentality is to be ready."
Minnesota's biggest threat against Grimm came in the first inning when Joe Mauer reached on a throwing error by second baseman Kinsler and Justin Morneau hit a two-out double to put runners on second and third. But Parmelee flied out to end the inning.
The Twins managed just four baserunners the next seven innings.
"(Grimm) did a really nice job and kept us off balance," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A couple times when we did get some men out there he made big pitches when he had to. Hopefully we'll heat up here as an offense. We've been a little inconsistent."
With Lewis not expected to return until the end of May, Grimm relishes outings like Friday as he aims to prevent a return trip to Triple-A Round Rock.
"I just want to pitch for this team, whether it's in the rotation or not," Grimm said. "I want to prove that I belong here. That's the whole idea."
Scott Diamond (1-2) gave up three runs and 12 hits in 6 1-3 innings as the Twins lost their third straight and were shut out for the second time this season.
Texas took an early lead on consecutive one-out doubles by Andrus and Berkman in the first inning. Berkman then scored on a two-out double from Cruz, who has driven in at least one run in six straight games and 13 total during that stretch.
Cruz's six-game RBI streak matches Cincinnati's Todd Frazier and Detroit's Prince Fielder for the longest in the major leagues this season.
NOTES: With back-to-back victories against Minnesota, the Rangers will remain undefeated through eight series to start the season. Texas has won five series and split two. ... Mauer went hitless for the second straight game, just the second time he's done so in back-to-back games this season. He's just 2 for 17 (.118) in his past five games after going 24 for 61 to start the season. ... The Rangers will start left-hander Derek Holland (1-1) on Saturday. Pedro Hernandez (0-0) will go for the Twins.