A.J. Burnett has pitched well recently. He hopes he can continue that trend against the only American League team he hasn’t beaten in his 10-year career.
Burnett (12-9, 4.50 ERA) has won four of his last five starts, including the last two. He has a 1.32 ERA over his last four outings and is coming off another solid start after limiting Tampa Bay to an unearned run and six hits over seven innings of a 3-1 win on Monday.
The right-hander struck out 10 as he matched his career high in wins, set in 2002 and equaled in 2005.
“He was on tonight,” teammate Carl Crawford said. “His slider was nice and sharp and his fastball was hard. He looked like he had his good stuff tonight.”
Burnett, though, is 0-2 with a 4.40 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance against the Rangers. He took a loss in that relief appearance on April 16, giving up two runs in the 14th inning of a 7-5 defeat.
He takes the mound Saturday after the Blue Jays suffered a tough 9-8 loss on Friday. The Rangers (57-53) trailed 6-2 after four innings, but they scored four times in the fifth and rallied for three in the ninth, capped by David Murphy’s game-winning two-run single.
Murphy finished with three hits and four RBIs.
“We were down six, but it was early,” manager Ron Washington said. “We got something going and kept chipping away. You like to see fight like that. We’re a team with heart.”
Josh Hamilton hit his 26th homer, but left the game in the sixth because of dehydration and is day-to-day.
Despite the win, Texas fired pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Dom Chiti after the game.
Rangers starters are 34-32 with a 5.45 ERA, and the staff’s 5.27 ERA is the worst in the AL. Andy Hawkins, who had been the pitching coach at Triple-A Oklahoma since 2006, will replace Connor. Jim Colborn, formerly the director of Pacific Rim operations, is the new bullpen coach.
“We felt we needed to try a different direction with the pitching staff, a different voice, a different message,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “Not that anything they were saying was wrong. But sometimes players respond to different voices and we’re going to take that chance.”
Scott Feldman (4-3, 4.97) looks to win his fourth straight decision for Texas. He hasn’t lost since June 13 against the Mets, and did not get a decision Monday against Seattle, giving up five runs and eight hits in six innings of a 7-5 loss.
Feldman has struggled at home, where he is 1-0 with a 4.44 ERA in eight starts, and the Rangers are just 2-6 in those outings.
The right-hander does not have a decision in one start and two relief appearances against the Blue Jays. In the start on April 13, he allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings of a 5-4, 10-inning loss.