Tonight, the Rangers wrap up their four game series against Oakland with a chance to sweep while simultaneously pushing their current five-game winning streak to six.
Here’s a look at tonight’s starting lineups:
Oakland Athletics (37-42)
DH Coco Crisp
2B Jemile Weeks
RF Josh Red-Dick
CF Yoenis Cespedes
LF Seth Smith
C Derek Norris
1B Brandon Moss
3B Brandon Inge
SS Cliff Pennington
RHP Yu Darvish (10-4, 3.57 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 10 K/9)
Currently, the Texas Rangers have seven players going to Kansas City next week to participate in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Darvish, regardless of his utterings to the contrary, has put up numbers that are All-Star worthy.
In his last start, he reached a milestone of sorts, as he issued the fewest walks (1) that he has ever surrendered over his 15 big league starts. That solitary free pass, coupled with his 10 strikeouts over seven innings of work were enough for the 6’5” Osaka, Japan native to record his tenth win of the year.
A win tonight against Oakland and The Yu would be tied with All-Star bound Matt Harrison for the team lead with 11.
For Darvish, the Athletics are a team he is quite familiar with. For the first time in his young career, Darvish will challenge a team for the third time. The Yu’ s results have been mixed as he won at home against Oakland in May, going 7 2/3 innings and striking out 7, and took the loss against the A’s early last month.
That loss was the worst start of Darvish’s brief major league career.
He lasted just 5 1/3 innings, put up the rather devilish line of 6 hits, 6 earned runs and 6 walks, and only managed four strikeouts.
Perhaps a tad of revenge—coupled with his success at home—will be the recipe Darvish needs to win his fourth-straight start.
Undefeated in Arlington (7-0, 3.45 ERA), and extremely tough on right-handed hitters (.187/.317/.328),The Yu is certainly capable of subduing an Oakland offense that has already been considerably cooled during the series’ first three games.
Overall, the Athletics are batting .296, with 7 RBI against The Yu. Coco Crisp has been particularly effective against Darvish, batting .667 with one homer and four RBI.
Texas Rangers (50-29)
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Adrian Beltre
3B Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mike Napoli
C Yorvit Torrealba
CF Craig Gentry
LHP Travis Blackley (1-2, 3.69 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 5.7 K/9
Australian-born Travis Blackley, sadly, doesn’t pitch submarine-style, so there is no point in my stating that he comes from Down Under, just like his fastball.
You can’t win ‘em all.
Tonight will mark the second time this season that Blackley has dared oppose the mighty Texas Rangers. In his last start, in Oakland, Blackley was Oakland’s lone loser of that three-game stand. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings, surrendering seven hits, five earned runs, and two walks with five strikeouts.
Blackley has yet to record a win away from Oakland this year, and over his last 10 starts he’s factored in to only three decisions, two of which he lost.
His platoon splits are quite similar, as left-handed batters produce a slash line of: .229/.224/.282 with zero home runs. Right-handed batters go: .238/.299/.361 with just one big fly off of the left-hander.
Ian Kinsler and Michael Young have had a good deal of success against Blackley, with Kinsler batting .333 with 2 RBI, and Young notching a triple and a double off the Melbourne, Australia native.
It’s worth noting that Blackley’s pick-off move is one of the finest in the American League, as he has successfully picked off four base runners, to tie him with Toronto’s Ricky Romero for the A.L. lead.