Yu Darvish hadn't been getting much run support before the Texas Rangers had one of their biggest offensive outbursts of the season in his last outing.
After watching his team drop three of four against Colorado because of lousy starting pitching, Darvish will try to give the Rangers a second straight strong start Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Boston Red Sox.Texas (18-17) struggled while losing the first three of a home-and-home set against Colorado -- two in Denver and the third at home. Martin Perez, Robbie Ross and Colby Lewis started those games and allowed a combined 18 runs and 31 hits over 14 innings. The Rangers also slumped at the plate, stranding 23 runners and scoring just five times.Matt Harrison and four relievers combined on a five-hitter to end the pitching woes Thursday in a 5-0 victory over the Rockies. Prince Fielder homered for Texas, which won for only the third time in 11 games.The Rangers have provided Darvish (2-1, 2.87 ERA) with just 3.35 runs per nine innings this season, but they broke out Sunday with 14 hits and nine walks to score a season high in a 14-3 road victory over the Los Angeles Angels."When you have your ace out there, you want to support him and get him some runs so he can have a breather," Adrian Beltre said. "Today we did that, and hopefully we can do it more often because he always gives us a good chance to win ballgames."Darvish went 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs with nine strikeouts to earn his first victory since the season opener.The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.93 ERA in two career starts against the Red Sox, who hit him hard in Boston on Aug. 6, 2012, but had trouble catching up to him in Arlington last May 5. Darvish struck out 14 over seven innings in the Rangers' 4-3 win.The Red Sox (17-17) took two of three against Oakland and swept a two-game set against Cincinnati on their recent homestand and can move above .500 for the first time since winning two of three against Baltimore to open the season.Boston, beginning a six-game trip that also takes it to Minnesota, had failed to even its record in eight previous chances before rallying for two runs in the eighth inning of a 4-3 win over the Reds on Wednesday."I don't think it was a mental hurdle," manager John Farrell said. "I never heard too many of us mention that we're bumping up against .500 and taking a step back. It was just more of a situation inside games where we had opportunities that we haven't cashed in on, finally we do tonight."Opposing Darvish will be Clay Buchholz (2-2, 5.63), who has picked up both his victories in his previous two starts.The right-hander allowed four runs on nine hits over 13 1/3 innings in those outings to bounce back from his worst of 2014, when he was tagged for six runs in 2 1/3 innings of a 7-6 loss to the Orioles on April 21.Buchholz is 1/3 with a 3.30 ERA over five career starts against the Rangers, though his most recent outing was his best. He did not factor in the decision but held Texas to a run and four hits over seven innings in a 2-1 victory in Arlington on July 24, 2012.
Entering Friday, David Ortiz had been shifted 117 times this season, 18 more than any other hitter in baseball. He hit a ground ball or short line drive into those shifts 41 times, with only six of them going for hits prior to Friday (.146 BA).