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Darvish’s 15 Ks Propel Rangers to Eighth Straight Win


Yu Darvish flirted with a no-hitter, struck out a career-high 15 hitters, and continued his recent dominance as the Texas Rangers swept away the Houston Astros.

Behind Darvish’s brilliant eight-inning performance – which marked his third consecutive win – the Rangers defeated the Astros 2-1 on Monday, earning their eighth straight win, which also keeps them atop the AL West standings by a single game over the Oakland A’s.

While the Rangers have managed to survive offensively following the suspension of Nelson Cruz, their pitching is mostly responsible for their current win streak. The Rangers’ staff held the lowly Astros to just 11 total runs in the four-game series and has only allowed 19 runs in the last eight wins.

But even amongst some truly stellar performances from the Rangers’ rotation lately, Darvish’s last few gems have stood out. He has struck out 14 or more batters five times this season, with two of those outings coming in his last three starts.

“He used everything today: slider, curveball, cutter, fastball,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said, according to ESPN.com. “He moved it around, kept them off-balance. When they were looking for breaking balls he was throwing fastballs and cutters and when they were looking for cutters he was throwing breaking balls.”

On Monday, Darvish used everything in his arsenal to take a no-hitter into the eighth inning, but lost it when Carlos Corporan lined a home run to right field. It was the only hit Darvish would allow in eight innings and the only hit the Rangers would allow total, as their closer, Joe Nathan, slammed the door on the Astros in the ninth with a three-up-three-down inning for his 35th save of the year.

The win sees Texas improve to 69-50 on the season, a full game up on Oakland heading into today’s games. With the Rangers about to start a three-game set with the Brewers, it would appear their slim lead could be safe for now, but with the A’s going up against the recently-whipped Astros, it’s likely Oakland could jump back in front.

With Bartolo Colon (14-4, 2.75 ERA) on the mound against Jordan Lyles (4-6, 5.40 ERA), the A’s should at least earn a win in game one of their series with Houston today, so that means that Texas will need to win to stay a game ahead.

Today, Texas will give the ball to Alexi Ogando (5-3, 3.28 ERA), who – like all of Texas’ starters – has pitched well lately, but he hasn’t been able to get past the fifth inning in his last four starts, which could be a concern against a Brewers team that scored 20 runs in its series with Seattle over the weekend.

However, the Rangers should be able to find some offense against Milwaukee’s Marco Estrada (4-4, 4.96 ERA), and its bullpen, which has been shaky at times this season.

Considering the Rangers have won 13 of their last 14 games, this is not the time to bet against him, especially when they are up against one of the National League’s worst teams. Take Texas to cover -1.5 in the win today.

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