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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, May 21st (All times Eastern)

Texas Rangers (26-16) at Seattle Mariners (19-24), 10:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Texas - Yu Darvish (6-1, 2.60) Seattle - Felix Hernandez (3-3, 3.02)

(Sports Network) - Yu Darvish has come a long way since taking some lumps in his major league debut against the Mariners. The Rangers hurler will get to show them just how much he has hit his stride tonight when rival Texas and Seattle begin a three-game series.

Signed to a six-year, $60 million deal by the Rangers after the franchise won his negotiating rights with a $51.7 million fee, Darvish made his MLB debut on April 9 versus the Mariners and allowed four runs in his first inning of action. He capped the ugly frame with a bases-loaded walk and gave up another run in the second before settling down.

The 25-year-old Japanese hurler ended up lasting 5 2/3 innings and actually got the win thanks to an 11-5 decision.

Darvish hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in a start since and has won back-to-back outings since suffering his first and only loss of the season on May 6. He beat the Athletics on Wednesday, giving up a run on four hits and two walks over 7 2/3 frames to improve to 6-1 with a 2.60 earned run average in eight starts.

"He took us as deep in the game as he possibly could," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "He was very efficient tonight. He loaded up the strike zone and that's what he had to do -- make them swing the bat."

The right-hander struck out seven, giving him 58 over 52 innings. He is one of just six players since 1984 to begin his career with that many strikeouts.

Seattle's Felix Hernandez knows a little something about missing hitter's bats, but he comes into tonight's start struggling. He allowed more than two earned runs just once in his first seven outings, but has done so in each of his last two.

The 26-year-old righty allowed four runs on 11 hits over 6 2/3 frames of a loss at the Yankees on May 11, then was drilled for eight runs -- six earned -- on 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings of work in Cleveland on Wednesday.

Hernandez is 3-3 with a 3.02 ERA in nine starts this season, striking out 61 in 62 2/3 innings, but has combating splits. He is now 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in six road starts on the year compared to a 1-1 mark and 0.78 ERA in three at home.

The former Cy Young winner lost all four of his decisions versus the Rangers last season with a 5.04 ERA and has historically struggled against the club, going 10-16 with a 4.03 ERA in 32 starts.

Seattle got on a roll this past weekend, finishing off a three-game sweep in Colorado with a 6-4 win on Sunday. The Mariners had lost four straight before the set, but the three straight wins allowed them to battle back for a 4-6 record on their 10-game road trip.

Justin Smoak hit a solo homer and an RBI single, while Jesus Montero had a two-run homer and Mike Carp added a solo shot.

Blake Beavan allowed a pair of runs while scattering seven hits and yielding one walk. He fanned seven over five-plus innings to earn the win.

"He battled," Mariners manger Eric Wedge said. "He didn't have his best stuff and definitely didn't have his fastball. He didn't give in, continued to mix his pitches and got us into the sixth inning."

The Rangers will look to win two straight tonight for the first time since May 10-11. They are 4-5 since and bested the Astros 6-1 on Sunday.

Colby Lewis carried a shutout into the ninth inning before giving up a solo homer. It was one of four hits allowed over his eight-plus frames and he also drove in two runs.

"Colby was great," Rangers first baseman Michael Young said. "He was just going after guys. He's so much fun to play behind because he has so much confidence and just trusts his stuff. He did a great job."

Nelson Cruz knocked in two runs and Josh Hamilton had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which scored five of its six runs in the first and leads Oakland by five games for first place in the American League West.

The Rangers won three of four at home versus the Mariners from April 9-12 and are 19-5 in the past 24 encounters. They won seven of 10 in Seattle last year.

05/21 11:05:11 ET

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