Mariners-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Every time Yu Darvish takes the mound, the Texas Rangers realize they might be witnessing history.

Another victory, however, would simply be good enough against the Seattle Mariners.

Coming off another near no-hitter, Darvish looks to win his career-best fourth straight start and lead AL West-leading Texas to its 16th victory in 19 games Sunday in Arlington.

After totaling 13 runs and batting .224 while dropping four of their previous five against the Mariners (56-66), the Rangers scored five times in the second inning off Felix Hernandez and had an eight-run eighth en route to their highest total of the season in Saturday's 15-3 win.

Former Mariner Adrian Beltre had two more hits, raising his average to .444 during a nine-game hitting streak versus his old club. He's also batting .460 in his last 14 games overall.

Texas (71-52) likely won't need another big offensive performance with Darvish (12-5, 2.64 ERA) on the mound Sunday.

Darvish again neared perfection in his last start, striking out a career-high 15 and allowing one hit in eight innings of a 2-1 win at Houston on Monday. Carlos Corporan ended the no-hit bid with a home run with one out in the eighth.

"He moved it around, kept them off-balance," manager Ron Washington said. "When they were looking for breaking balls he was throwing fastballs and cutters and when they were looking for cutters he was throwing breaking balls.''

The All-Star right-hander also came close to a perfect game in his first start of the season before Houston's Marwin Gonzalez singled with two outs in the ninth inning. He joined Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers in team history to have more than one start of at least eight innings with one hit or less.

Now all eyes figure to be on Darvish as he looks to improve on his 4-1 record and 1.31 ERA in five starts since missing more than two weeks with an upper back strain. He leads the majors with 207 strikeouts and opponents are batting .186 against him - among the lowest marks in baseball.

Darvish is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in his last three starts against the Mariners after he allowed three hits over seven innings of a 7-0 home win April 19.

Kendrys Morales (2 for 18), Dustin Ackley (2 for 15) and Raul Ibanez (1 for 9) haven't fared well, but Kyle Seager is 6 for 16 with four doubles in this matchup. Seager is also 28 for 56 during a 13-game hitting streak in Arlington.

"That's a good pitching staff, so it's not like that's the case," Seager told the team's official website. "But a couple times we've come here before and I made a few adjustments and hopefully I've got into a little rhythm."

The Mariners counter with Erasmo Ramirez (4-0, 7.06) hoping to avoid their 14th loss in 21 games.

The right-hander was tagged for four runs and seven hits - two homers - over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-4 win at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. He fanned a season-high seven, giving him 27 strikeouts over 27 2-3 innings in five starts.

Ramirez gave up two runs and four hits over 4 1-3 innings in a pair of relief appearances at Texas last season.

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