Yankees-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Yankees and Texas Rangers boast two of baseball's most prolific offenses.

They could both be on full display Tuesday night, as a pair of Japanese pitchers off to shaky starts square off at Rangers Ballpark.

After beating Texas 7-4 in Monday's series opener, the Yankees (10-6) will get their first look at Yu Darvish (2-0, 3.57 ERA), the pitcher the Rangers (13-4) committed more than $107 million to in the offseason.

The transition to the majors hasn't been completely seamless for the Japanese sensation, though he is showing some signs of improvement.

After giving up 17 hits over 11 1-3 innings in his first two starts, Darvish allowed a run and two hits in season-high 6 1-3 innings of a 10-3 win over Detroit on Thursday. He still had problems with his command walking five, bringing his season total to 13. His average of 6.6 walks per nine innings ranks second-worst in baseball.

Although he has had trouble with his control and seems to regularly be pitching with men on base, the right-hander has done a good job of limiting the damage. Pitching in similar situations against the Yankees, however, could prove to be more difficult.

New York leads the majors with 28 homers and is averaging 8.8 runs while batting .432 with runners in scoring position during its four-game winning streak.

In the opener, Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer, career home run No. 632, while Derek Jeter finished with four hits to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Jeter, who last had a 14-game hitting streak in September 2010, is batting .450 with 13 RBIs during his run, and is also hitting .471 during a seven-game streak at Rangers Ballpark.

"He's playing like he's 25,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "He's off to a great start. He feels good physically and that's the most important thing.''

With Jeter leading the way, the Yankees have won five straight over the Rangers and eight of the last nine meetings.

New York has won five of six overall with its lone loss in that stretch coming with scheduled starter Hiroki Kuroda (1-2, 5.00) on the mound.

This will be the seventh matchup of Japanese starting pitchers in major league history, the first since Kuroda was with the Los Angeles Dodgers and faced Hisanori Takahashi of the New York Mets on July 22, 2010.

Kuroda has alternated excellent and awful performances through his first three starts with the Yankees. The right-hander has been tagged for 12 runs in 10 innings in his two losses, but permitted five hits over eight scoreless innings in his victory.

Against Minnesota on Wednesday, he yielded six runs and 10 hits - including two homers - in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-5 loss.

It likely won't get any easier having to face a Rangers team that leads the majors with 98 runs, a .298 batting average, a .492 slugging percentage and is second with 27 homers.

Texas slugger Josh Hamilton hit his AL-leading eighth homer Monday, reaching the mark in a team-record 17 games. The 2010 league MVP is hitting .462 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in his last nine games.

Kuroda's only career appearance against Texas came on June 12, 2009, when he gave up five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-0 loss.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre will be back in Texas' lineup after missing three games because of inflammation in his upper left leg.

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