Darvish, Rangers aim to continue surge vs. Mariners (Jun 18, 2017)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish may have turned a corner with his June 2 start against the Houston Astros.

Darvish (6-4, 3.03 ERA) struck out eight in that outing, but lasted just five innings and threw 104 pitches. He knew something had to change and it has over his last two starts.

Since that start, Darvish has pitched at least seven innings in back-to-back starts and allowed a total of four earned runs. He’ll be looking to add to that stretch on Sunday when the Rangers (34-33) square off against the Seattle Mariners (33-37) and right-hander Christian Bergman (3-4, 5.75).

The Rangers will be looking for a sweep after scoring 20 runs in the first two contests of the series. They also have a chance to move two games over .500 for the first time since May 23.

Darvish has spent more time studying videos of hitters and hitting charts since the outing against Houston, and it’s paying off.

“At first I was taking down notes, but things I have interest in, if I see it I remember it, so right now I’m pretty much watching videos,” Darvish said. “I do look at hot and cold-zone charts, but there are some differences in the charts and actual location of the pitches so it is not totally accurate. So it is easier and clearer for me to look at the actual video.”

Darvish will be putting that video to use versus Seattle, against which he’s 5-3 with a 4.13 ERA lifetime. In Arlington, he’s never lost to the Mariners as he’s 5-0 with a 3.30 ERA in seven starts.

Darvish has faced the Mariners once this year, receiving a no-decision after allowing one run in seven innings.

While his recent numbers are good, Darvish knows he has more work to do.

“It’s only two games so I am not sure if I am going in the right direction,” he said. “I need a bigger sample size to determine the effect it has.”

Bergman is hoping his recent sample size isn’t an indicator of what’s to come for him. He was terrible in his June 13 start against Minnesota, getting tagged for nine runs on 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings.

“I just need to be a little bit better with command,” Bergman said. “Stay out of the middle of the plate. That was the biggest thing. When you catch the big part of the plate, things don’t go right. Just get back to doing what makes me successful, throwing strikes and staying out of the middle of the plate.”

Bergman pitched against the Rangers earlier this year, giving up one run in 3 2/3 innings in relief. That’s the only time he’s faced the Rangers in his career. He’s going to have to buck a rough road trend for him Sunday, too. In his four road starts for the Mariners this year, Bergman is 1-3 with a 10.61 ERA.

He isn’t too concerned about that, though.

“I think it’s too small of a sample size,” Bergman said. “It’s not something you really think about. There’s not a lot of difference between pitching in Seattle and coming to a place like this.”