ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers and Angels have a Sunday rubber game with a juicy matchup with right-hander Yu Darvish taking on Angels right-hander Jered Weaver in a battle of aces. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. CT on ESPN TV and ESPN 103.3 FM/1540 AM.
Darvish (1-0, 0.00 ERA): Can Darvish improve on his first start? If he does, he'll throw a perfect game. Darvish came within an out of a perfect game Tuesday at Houston, retiring the first 26 batters he faced before Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez slammed a single back up the middle. Darvish had all his pitches going, but it was his slider that befuddled the Astros the most. Darvish threw 111 pitches in the start, 78 for strikes. He had 14 strikeouts, the 11th time a Rangers pitcher has reached that mark and the first time a Texas pitcher has done it since Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan fanned 14 Angels on July 7, 1991. Darvish pitched his best last season at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, going 10-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 14 starts. He was 3-1 with a 4.23 ERA in six starts against the Angels.
Weaver (0-0, 1.50): Weaver was third in the American League Cy Young voting behind Tampa's David Price and Detroit's Justin Verlander. Weaver pitched six innings Opening Day, allowing a run and two hits against Cincinnati. He had four strikeouts. Weaver won 20 games for the first time in his career last season, finishing 20-5. His 2.81 ERA was third in the AL, also behind Price and Verlander. He had a 1.02 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched), which tied him with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for best in the major leagues. Weaver has a 13-7 record with a 3.61 ERA against the Rangers. He was the winning pitcher in four of his five starts against Texas in 2012.
Hitters: Elvis Andrus (23-for-60, 2 HRs, 5 RBIs) and Mitch Moreland (9-for-26, 2 HRs, 2 RBIs) have been the Rangers' top hitters against Weaver. Alberto Callaspo (6-for-14, 3 RBIs) and Mike Trout (6-for-17, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs) had the most success for the Angels against Darvish in his first season in the majors.