The Texas Rangers have allowed five runs or fewer in 26 straight games, and that's a streak Yu Darvish figures to help continue Friday night.
Baseball's strikeout leader gets ready to face a struggling Minnesota Twins team that strikes out often in the opener of a three-game home set.Texas (78-55) has posted a 3.09 ERA during this 26-game run since July 31 after recording a 3.77 ERA in its first 107 contests. It's the longest such streak in club history and longest in the majors since the Los Angeles Dodgers did it 31 games in a row Aug. 10-Sept. 12, 2009. It's the longest AL streak since 1972.Darvish (12-5, 2.68 ERA) will try and conclude an unbeaten August in which he is 3-0 with a 2.23 ERA and 53 strikeouts over 36 1/3 innings to take his season total to 225."We expect him to perform and he expects to perform," manager Ron Washington told the Rangers' official website. "Some days it happens, some days he has to fight and battle through it. But he's been able to do it both ways."The Rangers have dropped his last two outings, with Darvish yielding two runs over seven innings last Saturday with 11 strikeouts in a 3-2 walkoff loss to the Chicago White Sox.Darvish has faced the Twins once, yielding two runs over 5 2/3 innings and not getting a decision in a 6-2 victory April 14, 2012, his second big-league start.Minnesota (57-75) has struck out 1,135 times for the AL's second-highest total. The Twins have totaled six runs and fanned 49 times during a five-game losing streak.The Rangers, who lead the AL West by three games over Oakland, are back home after a 4-2 trip capped by a three-game sweep in Seattle with Wednesday's 12-4 rout. They are seeking to win 20 games in a month for the first time since going 21-6 in June 2010.Texas isn't taking anything for granted this weekend even though Twins star Joe Mauer won't travel to Arlington due to a concussion. These teams split four games April 25-28 in Minnesota."All those young kids are starting to perform better and starting to compete," Washington said. "Minnesota Twins teams usually compete well. They're so young. They have a couple of veterans, but for the most part they are a young team. But they will give you a tough time."The Rangers have faced Minnesota starter Liam Hendriks (0-2, 6.20) once. The right-hander allowed one run over six innings and did not get a decision in a 4-3 loss April 15, 2012.Hendriks matched a career high by surrendering seven runs over 4 1/3 innings in last Saturday's 7-2 loss at Cleveland. He was recalled to take the rotation spot of the ineffective Kyle Gibson, who was sent to Triple-A Rochester last week.Hendriks will face a tough matchup against Adrian Beltre, the AL's top hitter in August with a .400 average -- his same mark during an eight-game streak.Justin Morneau is in a 1-for-23 slump and Josh Willingham a 4-for-34 rut for the Twins, who lost right fielder Wilkin Ramirez to a bruised left shin in Thursday's 3-1 defeat to Kansas City."It's a tough time of the year," said bench coach Terry Steinbach, who filled in when manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the second inning.
Justin Morneau's 7th-inning home run off Yu Darvish was calculated at 432 feet, his longest home run since August 25, 2012, also at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (448 feet off Ryan Dempster).
Yu Darvish has 10 strikeouts Friday, his 11th start this season with at least 10 strikeouts, the most such games in the majors. In the last 10 seasons, only two pitchers have had more games with at least 10 strikeouts than Darvish this season.
From Elias: Yu Darvish has 4 K through 3 IP tonight vs Twins, meaning he has 57 strikeouts this month. Darvish also fanned 58 batters in April. Darvish is the 3rd pitcher since 2002 to have two months of striking out as many as 56 batters in a single season; both Randy Johnson (April, July and August) and Curt Schilling (April, May and August) accomplished that feat in 2002.
From Elias: Yu Darvish finishes August with 64 strikeouts. He's the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in August 2004 to strike out 60 in a calendar month. His 64 strikeouts are the most in a calendar month since Johnson struck out 70 in August 2002.