Diamondbacks-Rangers Preview

The Texas Rangers didn’t make any headlines as the non-waiver
trade deadline passed, but the drama on the field continued with
another late-inning victory.

Yu Darvish takes the mound looking to help Texas win a fourth
straight as it hosts the Arizona Diamondbacks in a makeup game
Thursday night.

Texas (59-49) had lost 12 of its last 15 and had been shut out
three times during a four-game losing streak entering their series
with the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.

The Rangers ended their skid on Geovany Soto’s ninth-inning,
two-run homer for a 4-3 victory in the opener, won 14-11 when
Leonys Martin hit a three-run shot in the 10th on Tuesday and
completed the sweep with a 2-1 victory Wednesday as Adrian Beltre
hit a walkoff homer in the ninth.

Texas became the first team to sweep a three-game series with
all game-ending homers since the 1999 Diamondbacks did it against
the Montreal Expos from May 10-12, 1999.

“Our offense has been the reason why we struggled the last few
weeks, and our offense is getting a lot better,” Beltre said.

Combined with Oakland’s 5-2, 10-inning loss to Toronto, the
Rangers pulled to within four games of the AL West lead. Still,
general manager Jon Daniels elected not to make any trades as the
deadline passed Wednesday afternoon.

There was speculation Texas would seek an outfielder to replace
Nelson Cruz in case he’s suspended for his connection to the
Biogenesis scandal, but Cruz was in the lineup Wednesday and hit
his team-best 25th homer.

“All I know is what you guys know,” manager Ron Washington said
of Cruz’s situation.

Darvish (9-5, 2.80 ERA) will try to help Texas stay hot as he
looks for a third straight impressive start since coming off the
disabled list with an upper back strain.

He allowed two hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-0 win over the New
York Yankees on July 22 before giving up one run and three hits
while striking out 11 in six frames of a 1-0 loss to Cleveland on
Saturday.

The run Darvish allowed came on a homer to the first batter he
faced.

“Things like this are just part of the game,” Darvish said
through an interpreter. “Some games pitchers don’t perform their
best, and some games hitters don’t perform their best.”

After having a 9.05 run-support average though his first nine
starts, Darvish’s RSA is just 2.54 over his last 11. He’s 2-4 in
that current stretch despite positing a 2.66 ERA.

The right-hander tied a career high with 14 strikeouts against
Arizona on May 27, but he allowed a tying two-run homer to Didi
Gregorius in the bottom of the eighth and the Diamondbacks rallied
for a 5-4 win.

Arizona (55-52) made a bold move at the deadline, dealing
pitcher Ian Kennedy to San Diego for left-handed reliever Joe
Thatcher, a minor leaguer and a draft pick. That trade is part of
the reason Zeke Spruill will be making his first major league start
Thursday.

Spruill (0-0, 2.08) pitched 4 1-3 innings of relief over four
appearances in a brief call-up in June. The right-hander, though,
hasn’t allowed an earned run in 31 2-3 consecutive innings while
going 3-0 over his last five starts for Triple-A Reno.

The Diamondbacks, who had lost three straight, got solid
pitching in Tuesday’s 7-0 win over Tampa Bay, while Eric Chavez and
Paul Goldschmidt each homered.

“We were struggling offensively,” Chavez said. “It was nice to
get that one, for sure.”

Goldschmidt is 4 for 27 over his last seven games, with three of
those hits leaving the park.

This contest is a makeup for the May 28 rainout. Arizona has won
two of the previous three meetings.