ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers have been anemic on offense all season, ranking 14th in the American League in batting average and 14th in on-base percentage.
Left field is a particularly sore spot for Texas, with the three-headed monster of Ryan Rua, Jurickson Profar and Delino DeShields combining to hit .161 with no home runs and four RBIs.
The Rangers hope settling on one player in left will allow them to establish some consistency as they look to avoid getting swept by the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.
Profar was given the shot to win the primary spot, but he faltered. Rua got the start Tuesday in Texas’ 8-1 loss, and he went 1-for-3. It looks as if Rua will get the nod again Wednesday against left-hander Hector Santiago (2-1, 2.19 ERA) and for the foreseeable future.
“I think it’s time to give Rua some extended opportunities,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “This has been a real challenge, not on me, but for those three guys coming out of spring training. Each of them had such good spring trainings. It’s just a complete challenge for them because I guarantee you they’re pulling for each other while trying to grind it out themselves.
Rua, who is batting just .138, is looking forward to the opportunity to play.
“I think I need to have that mindset whether I’m playing or not,” he said. “I’ve kind of been that way the last couple of years; hopefully I’ll be able to get into a good rhythm, see more pitches, get more comfortable at the plate, and help the team out.”
The good news for Rua and the rest of the Rangers is they might not need to grind out a lot of offense Wednesday with left-hander Cole Hamels on the mound.
Hamels (1-0, 2.77 ERA) is coming off his best start of the season. He went eight innings and allowed one run in picking up his first win of the season in a 6-2 decision over the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
Hamels hasn’t had much success against the Twins, with a 1-1 career mark and a 6.91 ERA. In two starts against Minnesota last year, he allowed 10 runs in 8 1/3 innings and was 0-1.
Santiago is off to a great start for the Twins. He struck out six in his last start and beat the Detroit Tigers on Friday, allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings. While he has made only 15 starts in his career with the Twins, he has a long track record against the Rangers.
Santiago is 7-4 with a 4.04 against Texas in 20 appearances (17 starts). Last year, he was 1-2 with a 6.63 ERA against the Rangers, with all the starts coming while he was with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Rangers, who have lost four straight to the Twins, will see a different Santiago on Wednesday. It may have something to do with the lefty coming into the season sharp after pitching for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
“When he did pitch for us, particularly in the spring, we saw a little bit better command of the fastball than we saw last year,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “He doesn’t have a history of being very economical with his pitches, but he’s been much more so here in the early going. He throws a lot of fastballs. He’s more comfortable with the change. You’ll see him be real aggressive in the zone with the fastball.”
The Twins will be looking for their second three-game sweep of the season after scoring seven runs in the fifth inning Tuesday. Miguel Sano opened the inning with a home run and ended it with an RBI single.
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