Astros-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Yu Darvish nearly pitched a perfect game against the Houston Astros this year, then nearly no-hit baseball's worst team.

What's less memorable is that the Texas Rangers ace lost in his lone home start of the year against Houston.

The Rangers are winless in Darvish's last four home starts, but he will be heavily favored in this one with his club on a nine-game win streak versus the Astros heading into Tuesday night's matchup.

Texas (85-71) is one game behind Cleveland for the AL's second wild card and two behind Tampa Bay. The Rangers improved to 15-2 against Houston with a 12-0 rout Monday to open this three-game set.

"We've had some rough games,'' Astros manager Bo Porter said. "They took it to us.''

It could get rougher for the Astros (51-106) as they face Darvish (13-9, 2.81 ERA) next after Derek Holland pitched a six-hitter with nine strikeouts Monday.

It's understatement to say that matchups against Darvish - who leads the AL with a .193 opponent batting average - haven't gone well for Houston.

He came within one out of a perfect game April 2 in a 7-0 victory before Marwin Gonzalez's single broke it up and chased Darvish, who finished with 14 strikeouts.

In his most recent start against the Astros on Aug. 12, Darvish took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Carlos Corporan's one-out homer ended that bid although Darvish finished with a career-high 15 strikeouts over eight frames in a 2-1 victory.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA with 54 strikeouts in five career starts against the Astros, but that defeat came July 6. He yielded five runs in six-plus innings to suffer a 9-5 home loss.

Texas had dropped six straight starts by Darvish before he surrendered two runs in five innings to beat 15-game winner Matt Moore in Thursday's 8-2 victory at Tampa Bay.

Darvish is still 0-3 with a 2.57 ERA in his last four starts in Arlington, with the Rangers giving him four total runs of support including none in the last two.

Support wasn't an issue Monday for Holland as Alex Rios hit for the cycle for the first time, becoming the seventh Ranger in history to accomplish the feat. Rios drove in four runs and his effort was part of a 14-hit attack for a Texas offense that totaled four runs over the weekend while losing two of three in Kansas City.

"We have to focus on the things that we have to do to win a game at a time," Rios said. "It doesn't do any good for us to look at what's happening around us."

Astros rookie starter Brad Peacock (5-5, 5.24) is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA in his last three road outings. He gave up four runs in 5 2-3 innings in a 6-5, 13-inning loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday.

The right-hander will face the Rangers for the second time after yielding one run over six innings and not receiving a decision in a 5-4 loss Aug. 10.

What to Read Next