Blue Jays-Rangers Preview


A lack of offense once again has the Texas Rangers mired in another rough stretch.

The Rangers hope to improve at the plate when they look to avoid extending their season-high home skid to four games Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Texas (38-28) has scored five runs, three on homers, while matching a season high with three straight losses overall. Losers in 11 of 17, the Rangers have batted .222 and struck out 61 times while losing six of eight to fall two games behind first-place Oakland in the AL West.

The Rangers wasted another strong outing Thursday from ace Yu Darvish, who allowed one run, three hits and struck out nine over seven innings of a series-opening 3-1 loss to Toronto (29-36).

"I'm not amazed,'' said Darvish, who is 0-1 despite a 2.08 ERA in his last five starts. "This is baseball. Anything can happen.

"Some games you get a lot of run support. Others you don't. I'm not really surprised by it.''

Nelson Cruz homered and had two of the six hits Thursday for the Rangers, who managed little against the Blue Jays' Esmil Rogers in his third start of the season.

Cruz is batting .353 (6 for 17) with two doubles, two homers and four RBIs in five games. However, Adrian Beltre is 2 for 13 without an RBI in the last four games and David Murphy is 4 for 37 (.108) in his last 10.

Potentially making matters worse, the Rangers could be without center fielder Leonys Martin after he sprained his left wrist trying to make a diving catch on Edwin Encarnacion's tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning Thursday. He's considered day to day after X-rays came back negative.

"Just hurts a little bit, but I don't think it's too serious,'' Martin said through a translator. "I had to run a lot and unfortunately, it was a great hit and I didn't get it.''

Texas could have a tough time getting back on track against scheduled starter Mark Buehrle (2-4, 5.06 ERA), who is 12-5 with a 3.16 ERA in 18 starts against the Rangers and 5-2 with a 3.35 ERA in seven at Arlington. The left-hander allowed a solo homer to Jeff Baker and three other hits through the first seven innings of Toronto's 4-3, 18-inning home victory over Texas on Saturday.

Though Buehrle is 2-1 with a 3.77 ERA in seven home starts, he's 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in six on the road in 2013.

The Blue Jays have won two in a row and five of seven.

Encarnacion has batted .327 with 30 of his 55 RBIs in his last 27 games.

He went 1 for 3 on Sunday off scheduled Texas starter Justin Grimm (5-4, 5.25), who yielded four runs in the third inning and walked three over 5 2-3 frames while not factoring in the decision of a 6-4 win at Toronto.

After giving up 12 runs in 7 1-3 innings of his last two starts, both on the road, the right-hander should be glad to return home where he's 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 2013.