Rangers-Blue Jays Preview

The Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays have split two

well-pitched games in this weekend series.

Matt Harrison owns a poor history against Toronto and will try

to change that as he gets the ball for the Rangers in Sunday’s

series finale at Rogers Centre.

Toronto (56-64) took Friday’s opener 3-2 as J.A. Happ outdueled

Yu Darvish, who struck out 10. Texas (69-50) evened the series

Saturday with a 2-1 victory.

Roy Oswalt, starting with Ryan Dempster having been placed on

the restricted list, lasted 4 2-3 innings before the Rangers

bullpen finished up by not allowing a run the rest of the way.

Carlos Villanueva was Saturday’s hard-luck loser for the Blue

Jays, allowing a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz over 6 1-3

innings.

Harrison (13-7, 3.24 ERA) is 0-2 over five appearances – four

starts – against the Blue Jays with a 12.00 ERA, his worst against

any club. He allowed a season-high eight runs over 3 1-3 innings at

Toronto in an 11-5 loss May 2.

Yunel Escobar and J.P. Arencibia combined to go 4 for 5 with

five RBIs against him in that contest. Escobar is 5 for 8 with

three extra-base hits against Harrison, who won’t have to worry

about facing the injured Arencibia (broken right hand) – 4 for 5

with a homer.

Arencibia is one of several regulars out for Toronto, which also

is without Jose Bautista (wrist), Brett Lawrie (strained right

ribcage) and Adam Lind (back).

The Blue Jays are an AL-worst 13-20 against left-handed starters

despite beating Harrison in May.

Harrison is tied for the league lead in road wins with Tampa

Bay’s David Price and Seattle’s Jason Vargas, going 9-4 with a 3.12

ERA. He gave up one run over 6 1-3 innings Tuesday in a 3-0 road

defeat to the Yankees, missing a chance to match his career-high

victory total of 14 set last year.

He’ll be backed by a bullpen that deserved plenty of credit for

Saturday’s win. Joe Nathan converted his team-record 22nd straight

save opportunity as the fifth reliever used by the Rangers.

“The bullpen has been throwing the ball really well,” said

right-hander Mike Adams, who has a 1.77 road ERA. “We’ve been

keeping the boys in the game and giving us a chance to win.”

Texas, which improved to an AL-best 19-11 in day games, is

seeking to win a series at Toronto for the first time since

sweeping a two-game set April 16-17, 2008. The Rangers have

captured the season series for the first time since 2006 by winning

five of the first eight meetings.

It may be a good time for a second day off on this road trip for

second baseman Ian Kinsler, who is 0 for 18 in his last five

games.

Henderson Alvarez (7-10, 4.48) will face Texas for the second

time after he yielded five runs over 5 2-3 innings May 26. Cruz was

one of three Rangers to homer against the right-hander in an 8-7,

13-inning win for Texas.

Alvarez fell to 0-3 with a 4.86 ERA in his last three outings

after giving up three runs over seven innings Tuesday in a 3-2

defeat to the White Sox.

Only Boston’s Jon Lester has lost more home starts than Alvarez,

who is 3-7 with a 4.23 ERA in 12 outings at Rogers Centre.