Blue Jays-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Josh Hamilton came into this series against the Toronto Blue Jays in a power drought, contributing to some recent inconsistency by the Texas Rangers.

Now, both appear to be over.

After hitting his 20th homer of the season and second in as many days, Hamilton will try to lead the Rangers to a home sweep of the Blue Jays on Sunday.

Texas is in position for the sweep after Hamilton hit a walk-off three-run homer in the 13th inning off Jason Frasor to give the Rangers an 8-7 win over Toronto on Saturday.

The Blue Jays scored a pair of runs in the top of the inning, including one on Nelson Cruz's error.

''It happened so fast,'' Frasor said. ''It was just walk-hit-homer and it was over.''

Hamilton hadn't homered in 11 straight games but went deep in Friday's 14-3 victory before leaving that game with a head cold. He had to get IV fluids and oxygen after Saturday's contest, and he used ammonia towels and fluids during the game to fend off the effects of the 91-degree heat.

''I've been seeing stars since the fifth inning,'' Hamilton said. ''I hit a wall. I was light-headed and seeing those little stars.''

The major league leader with 20 home runs, Hamilton is tied for the most through 47 games in Rangers franchise history with Frank Howard in 1968.

''No matter if he's sick or hurt, every time he plays, he's a hard out,'' teammate Elvis Andrus said. ''I don' think he has to be 100 percent to hit a homer - I do. I have to be 100 percent to hit a home run. But he could hit it with one arm and would still be able to hit it out.''

The Rangers (29-18), who haven't won three in a row since an eight-game winning streak April 12-21, will turn to Yu Darvish (6-2, 3.05 ERA) in the finale as he tries to bounce back from his worst start.

After an outstanding April, which included a win over Toronto, the right-hander has battled some control problems this month - particularly in his last outing. He gave up five runs and walked a career-high six in four innings of a 6-1 loss to Seattle on Monday.

"The early part of the game I was OK with my command,'' Darvish said. "But somewhere in the middle when I really needed to throw a strike, I struggled to get a strike."

Darvish has walked 32 this season - fifth-most in the AL - while ranking among the league leaders with 63 strikeouts.

Monday was his second start against the Mariners and he hopes to avoid similar problems in his second matchup with the Blue Jays (24-23). He allowed one run, four hits and struck out nine in seven innings of that 4-1 victory on April 30.

"The guy's got good stuff and you haven't seem him before," Toronto's Kelly Johnson, who went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Darvish, told the Blue Jays' official website. "There's a huge advantage to the pitcher there. But he had good stuff."

Toronto's four-game losing streak matches its longest of the season and Saturday's defeat was the second in extra innings during that stretch.

Hoping to avoid their first five-game skid since June 27-July 1, 2010, the Blue Jays give the ball to Kyle Drabek (4-4, 3.27), who is looking to win a third straight start following a personal four-game losing streak.

Drabek allowed two runs, three hits and overcame six walks in six innings of a 6-2 win at Tampa Bay on Monday.

The right-hander opposed Darvish last month and was a hard-luck loser, giving up two runs and striking out a career-high eight over six innings in the defeat.

What to Read Next