Indians-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

After missing a turn in the rotation with a stiff neck, the Texas Rangers' Yu Darvish picked up where he left off with a dominant performance last weekend.

He's also pitched well against the Cleveland Indians but doesn't have much to show for it.

Darvish tries to cool off the Indians, who look to extend their season-best winning streak to seven in Friday night's series opener in Arlington.

Darvish (5-2, 2.08 ERA) has been mostly dominant over the last four weeks, going 4-1 with a 1.66 ERA over a five-start stretch. The All-Star right-hander has struck out 50 over 38 innings during that span while holding opponents to a .182 average.

After being scratched last Tuesday, Darvish returned to throw eight innings of five-hit ball in Sunday's 2-0 win at Washington. He matched a season high with 12 strikeouts, throwing 70 of his 102 pitches for strikes.

"When guys can mix up four or five different pitches, all different speeds and locations, it makes it tough to sit on any one pitch," Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche told MLB's official website. "A big part of it is having those pitches, and also his location and being able to run it up there 96 (mph) when he wants to. ... There's a reason he's put up the numbers he has."

Darvish now returns home, where he's gone 1-2 in five starts despite a 2.06 ERA. He was backed by eight runs of support in that lone victory but hasn't received any in those other four outings.

He hasn't gotten any support in two starts against Cleveland, either. He's lost both despite a 3.00 ERA, going six innings and striking out 11 in each.

Darvish would appear to have a tough matchup against an Indians team that's averaged 5.5 runs during its winning streak. Cleveland (30-30) is coming off a perfect six-game homestand against Colorado and Boston, capped by Asdrubal Cabrera's three-run homer in the 12th inning of a 7-4 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday.

The Indians, within three games of Detroit for the AL Central lead, now have a chance to climb above .500 for the first time since they were 5-4 on April 9.

"I think if you start worrying about your record in May, you're kind of fighting an uphill battle," starter Corey Kluber said. "There's so much of the season left that, maybe if you kind of stay the course and continue to play good, you're capable of getting on a roll like we have this homestand, and things can turn out in your favor."

While the Indians have thrived at home, they are a major league-worst 9-19 on the road.

Texas (30-30), though, hasn't won a series in Arlington since mid-April and suffered back-to-back home losses to Baltimore before salvaging Thursday's finale with an 8-6 win. Michael Choice went 2 for 4 with a two-run homer and Mitch Moreland had two RBIs.

The Rangers now try to get the best of Trevor Bauer (1-2, 3.63), who has shown plenty of promise with 29 strikeouts in four big league starts spanning 22 1-3 innings. The 23-year-old right-hander yielded two runs and four hits while striking out eight over six innings but didn't receive a decision in Saturday's 7-6 win over Colorado.

"You can definitely see the difference in Trevor just from spring training," reliever Cody Allen said. "He's got unbelievable stuff. ... The more and more he pitches, gets comfortable, sees pitchers, he's going to get better and better."

Cleveland is seeking a sixth consecutive win over the Rangers after shutting them out in back-to-back games in July.

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