Rangers looking for another strong start from Darvish

ARLINGTON, Texas — Both Yu Darvish and Jesse Chavez are coming off strong starts heading into the second of a three-game series between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels on Saturday at Globe Life Park.

Darvish (2-2) allowed just two runs in eight innings his last time out in Texas’ 5-2 win over the Kansas City Royals. He looked like the Yu Darvish that the Rangers originally paid more than $50 million just to negotiate with before his first major league contract, striking out eight, going deep into the game and keeping his pitch count manageable.

The Royals are currently sitting in fifth place in the American League Central, though. Darvish is 8-2 with a 3.48 ERA in his career against the Angels (13-12), who are two games ahead of the Rangers (10-13) in the AL West.

While the Angels come into Saturday’s matchup riding a season-best five-game winning streak, the Rangers have fallen on more hard times, losing three of four after showing some good signs in that four-game sweep of Kansas City.

Chavez (2-2) also feasted against a last-place team in his last start, allowing just one run in six innings against the Blue Jays in a 2-1 Angels win.

Los Angeles used the home run to dispose of the Rangers in Friday’s series opener, sandwiching Mike Trout’s seventh homer of the year, a two-run shot in the sixth inning, between Yunel Escobar’s no-doubter on the first pitch of the game, and Albert Pujols’ game-winning three-run shot in the top of the eighth.

“Albert has been driving runs all along, even if some hits haven’t fallen in for him,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Friday’s win. “That’s a huge hit at the time, needless to say, and it’s good to see him feeling a little more comfortable in the box.”

Pujols’ homer against the Rangers was his third of the year and No. 594 for his career. The 17th-year slugging veteran is 15 back of Sammy Sosa for eighth all-time.

The Rangers, though, hope to put it behind them quickly.

“It was just one pitch,” said Jeremy Jeffress, who gave up Friday’s game-winning homer in the eighth. “I’m not going to overthink it. The guy’s a good hitter. it was just a bad pitch selection in a bad location.”

Trout, who moved into a tie for second in the AL with his seventh homer Friday, is one of just three major leaguers with four home runs against Darvish. Trout, who bumped his batting average up to .355 with three hits Friday, comes in with a .308 mark against Darvish.

“I’m just getting a pitch and not missing it,” Trout said Friday. “Just trying to keep it simple, and go with it.”