Athletics-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Not even the weather could stop Yu Darvish in his most recent trip to the mound, and it seems unlikely the light-hitting Oakland Athletics will either.

The Texas Rangers look to continue their dominance of the visiting A's by giving the ball to Darvish in the opener of this two-game set Wednesday night.

Darvish (5-1, 2.84 ERA) has won all three starts at Rangers Ballpark behind a 3.72 ERA, including Friday against Los Angeles after enduring a 1-hour, 56-minute rain delay following the opening inning. The right-hander surprisingly returned to continue his outing and lasted 5 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and three hits with seven strikeouts in the 10-3 victory.

"Yu pitched great. I was proud of him coming back out there and sticking it out, doing what he's got to do," center fielder Josh Hamilton said. "That says to his teammates about him as a player and a competitor to go back out and do that."

Darvish is living up to the lofty expectations that followed him from Japan. He leads the Rangers (23-14) in wins and strikeouts (51) while his ERA is the lowest of any member of the rotation.

"It looks like he comes as advertised. We're going to have to try to come up with a good plan, potentially try to take away from some of his strengths," A's manager Bob Melvin told the team's official website. "The first time around, I think, certainly is an advantage to the pitcher."

It seems Darvish is in a favorable position to improve on those numbers against the A's (19-18), who are last in the majors with a .217 average while their 298 strikeouts are among the most.

The Rangers went 13-6 against Oakland last year, winning 12 of the last 14 while holding the A's to .185 at the plate.

They've hit .161 with 28 strikeouts while dropping two of their last three. Oakland had five hits and fanned 11 times in a 4-0 defeat at Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The A's haven't had much trouble scoring lately with Tommy Milone (5-2, 3.92) on the mound. Oakland has given Milone 19 runs in his last two outings after scoring eight in his first five.

He didn't need much help Friday. Milone yielded two runs - one earned - and five hits with six strikeouts in seven innings of an 11-4 win over Detroit.

That pushed him to 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in three home starts, but it's been a different story away from the spacious Coliseum. Milone has a 7.84 ERA in four outings on the road, where he's surrendered all five of his homers.

He's never faced Texas, and now may not be the best time to get a first look at Hamilton. The 2010 AL MVP leads the majors with 18 homers and 45 RBIs, and he's batting .418 with 10 of those blasts during a 15-game hitting streak.

Hamilton is hitting .368 with six homers and 28 RBIs in 28 meetings with the A's in Arlington.

Oakland's Jemile Weeks hit .340 in 12 games against the Rangers last year.

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