W2W4: Top-2 AL West teams in Arlington
April, 28, 2014
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesWill the Rangers be able to score more runs against the A's with Yu Darvish on the mound?For the second time in a week, the Texas Rangers will face the Oakland A's in a three-game series. This one is at Globe Life Park in Arlington, the first time the A's have played in Arlington this season. A few things to watch during the series:
* Yu Darvish gets another crack at Oakland. The Rangers' ace faces RHP Sonny Gray in the series opener tonight after going six innings last week in Oakland, allowing three runs on eight hits with four walks and six strikeouts. It wasn't Darvish at his best, but it was good enough for a no-decision in a 4-3 win. Still, Darvish's career numbers against Oakland aren't pretty. He won his first career start against the A's, but is 0-6 with a 4.89 ERA in his last seven starts.
* Scoreless streak. Can Martin Perez continue his assault on the Rangers' record book? He has 26 consecutive scoreless innings. The club record is 39 by Kenny Rogers in 1995. But Perez has another streak going: two straight complete game shutouts. He's the first to do that in the AL since teammate Derek Holland pulled off the feat in 2011. He's one of only eight pitchers since 1992 to throw two shutouts while allowing three or fewer hits. That list includes Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine and Matt Cain.
* Pitching matchups. Of the six pitchers scheduled to start in this series, the one with the highest ERA is Robbie Ross at 2.45. That should make runs at a premium and set up for a fun three games involving a trio of starters on each side that has started the season well.
* Alex Rios. The outfielder has quietly gone about his business this season and is in the top-10 in batting in the AL and consistently ranks tops on the club in RBIs (11), extra-base hits (9) and total bases (43).
* New starting catcher? The thought when the season started was that Robinson Chirinos and J.P. Arencibia would split time at catcher. But that isn't really happening anymore. Chirinos has emerged as the starting catcher with his handling of the pitching staff and the fact that he's performed better at the plate (though that's relative as the club hasn't gotten much offense at all from its catchers). Don't be surprised if Chirinos catches at least two of these three games.
* Joakim Soria. The bullpens will still be worth watching in this series, even with the good starting pitching. And that's especially true late. We've talked a bunch about the eighth inning, but the ninth matters too. Right-handed batters have just one hit off Soria this season and earned three saves during the club's six-game road trip last week. These games are likely to be close and that means Soria could be on the mound when it matters most in the ninth.