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Monday, July 22, 2013
Matchup: Yu Darvish vs. Ivan Nova

By Todd Wills

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers open an important four-game series against the New York Yankees on Monday night with ace right-hander Yu Darvish facing right-hander Ivan Nova. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. on ESPN, Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and Deportes 1540 AM.

Darvish (8-4, 3.02): Darvish makes a start after his first stint on the disabled list for a muscle strain in his back. The Rangers have said it was a precautionary move and he could have made last start before the All-Star break against Baltimore. ... Darvish lost his last start, allowing a season-high five runs in six innings on July 6 against last-place Houston. The Rangers' ace allowed eights and also walked a season-high tying four in the 8-5 loss. ... He hasn't pitched past the sixth inning in his last four starts, posting a 4.50 ERA. ... Darvish is tied for the major leagues lead in strikeouts with 157. ... His .190 opponents batting average in the third-lowest in the majors behind Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. ... Darvish is 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA in two career starts against the Yankees, facing Hiroki Kuroda both times. He took a no-decision June 25 at Yankee Stadium after allowing three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Nova (4-2, 3.63): Nova is making his eighth start of the season. ... He allowed a run on three hits in eight innings in a win over Kansas City on July 10. ... Nova has won two straight starts for the first time since winning five in a row last May and June. ... He has gone at least eight innings in consecutive starts for the first time in his career. ... Nova's average fastball velocity is 93.9 mph. He was demoted earlier in the season after going 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA for two starts. ... He is mainly throwing a fastball and curveball with an occasional slider mixed in. ... Nova is making his fifth career start against the Rangers. He is 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA against Texas and won his only game at Rangers Ballpark, allowing a run and two hits in seven innings.

Hitters: Current Rangers have batted only .154 against Nova (10-for-65) with one home run by Ian Kinsler. Japanese rival Ichiro Suzuki is 7-for-14 against Darvish with two RBIs.