A struggling rotation has played a large role in the Texas Rangers' recent woes but the team might get some much-needed help in its series with the New York Yankees.
Yu Darvish is the first of two Rangers pitchers set to return from injuries, and he'll make his first start in a little more than two weeks in Monday night's series opener.
Texas's starters have combined for a 7.21 ERA during a 1-7 stretch and the Rangers (54-44) gave up four runs in the first four innings in their fourth consecutive defeat Sunday, 4-2 to Baltimore. That loss dropped the club three games behind AL West-leading Oakland.
The Rangers are hoping to end their struggles when they get Darvish (8-4, 3.02 ERA) and Alexi Ogando off the disabled list the next two games.
"I think (the break) was good for me," Darvish told the team's website through an interpreter. "I was able to rest and do everything I had to do."
Darvish would appear to be returning at a good time as he's 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA in two career starts against the Yankees (52-46). He did not get a decision in his only matchup this season, giving up three runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 4-3 loss June 25.
The right-hander, however, is also 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in his last four starts, and he surrendered five runs over six-plus innings in a 9-5 loss to Houston on July 6 before his first career trip to the DL for a strained back.
Darvish will face an injury-plagued Yankees team that's lost seven of 11 and got some bad news on Alex Rodriguez on Sunday.
Rodriguez was expected to return from the disabled list (hip surgery) on Tuesday but suffered a strained left quad while rehabbing. He is expected to return to the team's spring training facility in Tampa, Fla., for rest and treatment.
New York followed that announcement by blowing an early three-run lead in Boston en route to an 8-7 loss in 11 innings.
"He's going to be out for a while," manager Joe Girardi said. "So we'll just deal with it and continue to play."
Ivan Nova (4-2, 3.63) will try to help break his club out of its funk with a third victory in as many starts. The right-hander has a 2.28 ERA and 24 strikeouts over 23 2-3 innings in his three starts since returning from a stint in the minors.
Nova fanned six and gave up one run over eight innings in his final start before the All-Star break, an 8-1 win against Kansas City on July 10.
"Getting him back on track was really important to us," Girardi told the team's website. "We've seen him pitch really well. He got out of whack the second half (of 2012) and struggled a little bit at the beginning of the year, but he's back on track."
Nova has won his past two decisions against Texas despite giving up four runs in each of his last two matchups. He did not get a decision in his lone meeting with the Rangers in 2012, a 10-6 loss Aug. 16.
Adrian Beltre, A.J. Pierzynski and Elvis Andrus are a combined 3 for 32 (.094) against Nova.
Robinson Cano, batting .415 with 12 RBIs during a 12-game hit streak, is 2 for 14 (.143) in his last six games against the Rangers but is a career .342 batter in Texas. He's also 3 for 6 all-time versus Darvish.
Ichiro Suzuki is 7 for 14 against his Japanese countryman.
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