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.