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No team in the American League has been hotter this month than the Texas Rangers, who aim for their 20th win in August when they open a three-game series against the visiting Minnesota Twins on Friday. The Rangers lead the AL West by three games over Oakland and own the best record in the AL by one percentage point over Boston, in large part because of their 19-6 mark this month. Texas has won three straight and seven of nine.
The Rangers would like to add to their lead during this home series before setting out on a six-game road trip against the Athletics and Los Angeles Angels next week. The Twins don't figure to provide much resistance, as they've lost five straight to fall 18 games below .500. But Rangers manager Ron Washington isn't taking the Twins lightly, saying, "As the year has progressed, they're getting better. All those young kids are starting to perform better and starting to compete."
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), TXA-21 (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Liam Hendriks (0-2, 6.20 ERA) vs. Rangers RH Yu Darvish (12-5, 2.68)
Hendriks was tagged for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings last time out at Cleveland, dropping to 1-12 in 24 career starts. The 24-year-old Australian has served up two home runs in each of his two starts since being recalled to replace Kyle Gibson in the rotation. Hendriks made one start against the Rangers last year, allowing one run over six frames in a no-decision.
Darvish hasn't factored in the decision his last two starts, but he has won three straight decisions and is 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA over his last seven outings. The 27-year-old battled through cramping and dehydration last time out as he limited the Chicago White Sox to two runs over seven frames while striking out 11. Darvish faced the Twins last season, allowing two runs (one earned) over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision.
1. Texas has not won 20 games in a month since going 21-6 in June 2010.
2. Twins OF Josh Willingham was placed on revocable waivers and claimed by Baltimore, meaning the teams can work toward a trade or Minnesota can pull him back.
3. Darvish has reached double digits in strikeouts 11 times this season. He fanned a career-high 15 batters against Houston on Aug. 12.
PREDICTION: Rangers 5, Twins 1