Rangers-Rays Preview

The Texas Rangers overcame their recent struggles for one day,

but the woes were restored in dramatic fashion Wednesday night in

an extra-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, costing them possession

of the AL’s top wild-card spot.

They seek a bounce-back victory behind Yu Darvish on Thursday

night at Tropicana Field, but he’ll likely need better run support

than he’s seen lately as he faces Matt Moore in a showdown between

two of the league’s top arms.

Texas (82-69) ended a seven-game losing streak with Tuesday’s

7-1 win, but resumed its September lull with a 4-3 loss to the Rays

in 12 innings on Wednesday. The Rangers are 3-13 this month, while

the Rays (86-68) have won five of their last seven to overtake them

in the wild-card hunt with a one-game advantage.

Desmond Jennings provided the game-winning single in the 12th

inning, redeeming himself for a misplayed ball in center field that

gave Texas a 2-0 lead in the second inning.

“I want to believe this game has to give us some kind of impetus

moving forward,” manager Joe Maddon said.

Meanwhile, Texas owns a one-half game edge over Cleveland for

the league’s second wild-card spot.

“If it was the last game and we weren’t in it because of it,

that would be the toughest loss,” said closer Joe Nathan, who

suffered his third blown save in the 11th inning after allowing

Tampa Bay to tie the game at 3. “But we’re still in the postseason

aren’t we? I can’t see how this can be the toughest loss. We get

another opportunity tomorrow.”

That opportunity comes with Darvish (12-9, 2.79 ERA) on the

mound. The right-hander ranks third in the AL in ERA but is winless

in his last six outings – and enters this contest with a

career-worst four-start losing streak – despite compiling a 3.38

ERA with 49 strikeouts in 40 innings.

He received eight runs of support in the first four games in

that stretch, then was the loser in 1-0 results in each of the last

two.

“I can’t control it. I can’t do anything about it. The only

thing I can do is concentrate on the batter in front of me,”

Darvish said through an interpreter, insisting that he has no

frustration.

Darvish allowed one earned run over 15 innings in two starts

versus Tampa Bay last year, going 1-0.

Moore (15-3, 3.11) would also rank among the league’s ERA

leaders but hasn’t thrown enough innings to qualify after missing

more than a month with elbow soreness.

He’s been stellar since returning, limiting opponents to one

earned run over 14 2-3 innings in three starts. However, his last

outing was limited to three innings due to a 2 hour, 4 minute rain

delay in a 7-0 victory at Minnesota on Saturday.

“Hopefully it will benefit me just this week,” Moore said. “As

far as my side work goes, hopefully I should be a little less sore

those days.”

Moore threw 5 1-3 innings of one-hit ball in a 2-0 win at Texas

on April 10, though he matched a career high with six walks.

No Ranger has more than three at-bats versus Moore except Alex

Rios, who is 1 for 11 with eight strikeouts.

Wil Myers extended his hitting streak to eight games with a

single on Wednesday.