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.