Rangers-Blue Jays Preview


Yu Darvish couldn't help the Texas Rangers put an end to their struggles.

Now, the AL West-leading Rangers will turn to a pitcher trying to stop his own slide when they continue a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

After being demoted from the rotation on July 30, Roy Oswalt (4-2, 6.53 ERA) will fill in for Ryan Dempster, who will miss his scheduled start because of personal reasons. The Rangers didn't elaborate, except to say Dempster will rejoin the team Monday.

Instead, it's up to Oswalt to stem the tide for Texas (68-50), which dropped the series opener 3-2 on Friday, the team's fourth loss in five games.

Oswalt hasn't started since July 30, when he gave up eight runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 15-8 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. He made his most recent appearance at Boston on Aug. 8, yielding four runs and three hits in 1 1-3 innings.

His only career start against Toronto was a two-hitter in a 3-0 victory for Houston on June 12, 2005.

One day after scoring 10 runs at Yankee Stadium, the Rangers were held to four hits by six Toronto pitchers. Texas' normally potent lineup has scored only six runs in four losses on the seven-game road trip.

"We had some chances for a base hit to make a difference," manager Ron Washington said. "If we had made the difference with one base hit, it would have been our victory, I feel."

Friday's victory ended a three-game skid for last-place Toronto, which has lost 14 of 19 overall and six of nine at home.

Edwin Encarnacion continued the best season of his career with his team-leading 31st home run after missing Thursday's game with a sore wrist. He's batting .435 (10 for 23) in his last six games but is 3 for 24 (.125) with nine strikeouts lifetime against Oswalt.

''I felt good today,'' Encarnacion said. ''I can do my swing 100 percent.''

Carlos Villanueva (6-2, 3.12) looks to continue his run of solid outings for the Blue Jays.

He's allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his eight starts and completed at least six innings in six of his past seven outings. The right-hander limited the Chicago White Sox to one run and five hits over seven innings Monday but left without a decision in a game Toronto eventually won in 11.

Villanueva will want to be careful with Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, who is 4 for 5 with a homer and a triple in their matchups.