Rangers-Angels Preview

The Los Angeles Angels were fortunate not to face Yu Darvish
last week. However, they’ll now catch the Texas ace coming off one
of the best performances of his career.

Looking to help the visiting Rangers continue to surge without
one of their star hitters, Darvish looks for a third straight
winning start over the Angels on Tuesday night.

Since missing a little more than two weeks with a back strain,
Darvish (10-5, 2.66 ERA) has allowed one run, 10 hits and struck
out 29 over 19 1-3 innings while going 2-1. He matched his major
league high with 14 strikeouts and yielded five hits without a walk
in seven innings of a 7-1 victory over Arizona on Thursday in his
50th major league start.

“He was as good as I’ve seen him all year, counting the almost
perfect game he threw the first start of the year. His stuff was
just nasty,” Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.

“He just kept mixing it up, and the strikeouts just kept coming
and coming. Nights like that are fun.”

Darvish has fanned at least 10 batters 16 times in less than two
seasons. With 20, Dwight Gooden is the only other pitcher since
1900 with more through his first 50 starts.

The right-hander is 5-1 with a 3.83 ERA and 65 strikeouts in
eight starts versus Los Angeles (51-60), including 2-0 with a 2.45
ERA in 2013. Darvish, who missed the Angels when Texas swept them
at Arlington last week, gave up three hits and fanned 11 in six
scoreless innings of an 11-3 win at Anaheim on April 24.

The same day the Rangers (63-50) learned All-Star slugger Nelson
Cruz received a 50-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis
scandal, Adrian Beltre homered and Elvis Andrus had two RBIs in a
5-2 win at Los Angeles on Monday.

Winners in two straight and seven of eight since dropping 12 of
15, Texas is two games behind AL West-leading Oakland. The Rangers
appear poised to succeed without Cruz, who leads the team with 27
homers and 76 RBIs.

“We’re not going to stop putting runs on the board,” manager
Ron Washington said. “We’ve got to play the same way that we’ve
always played – maybe with a little less power because Cruz isn’t
out there.”

Beltre is batting .406 with two homers and seven RBIs in eight
games. He’s hit .366 with three home runs this season versus Los
Angeles, but is 1 for 6 with a homer against scheduled starter
Garrett Richards (3-4, 4.18).

The right-hander has allowed two runs and seven hits in 12
innings over two starts since replacing Joe Blanton in the rotation
July 27. He surrendered those runs and four hits in seven innings
of an 8-2 victory over Toronto on Thursday.

“I’m trying to make the most of my opportunity right now,”
Richards told the Angels’ official website.

The right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.26 ERA in six starts this
season, and has a 4.76 ERA with no decisions in three versus
Texas.

He won’t have to face second baseman Howie Kendrick, who
hyperextended his left knee trying to catch a popup in short right
field Monday.

“Hopefully it’ll only be a couple of days,” Kendrick said.

Los Angeles’ Mike Trout is 0 for 5 with a walk and three
strikeouts against Darvish this season, but can set a record for
Angels outfielders after he reached base for the 36th consecutive
game Monday. He’s batting .438 (14 for 32) with 18 walks in the
last 11.

The Angels have lost two straight and eight of 11.