Has Rangers rookie Yu Darvish hit the rookie wall? The Japanese sensation has struggled big time over the past month-plus and the Rangers aren’t likely to win the AL pennant again if he doesn’t get things sorted out. Darvish takes the mound in Sunday’s series finale against Detroit in a potential playoff preview.
Boston at Cleveland – Red Sox LHP Jon Lester (5-10, 5.36) vs. Indians RHP Corey Kluber (0-0, 6.10): Lester continued to struggle, as in his last start against Texas, allowing four runs on six hits over 6 2/3 frames in a losing effort. He has allowed four or more runs in five of his last six outings, and he hasn’t won since June 27. … Kluber rebounded with a quality start in his last outing against the Twins. He allowed three runs on six hits over six-plus innings, while striking out three and walking three. Kluber took a no-decision after the Indians squandered a late lead.
NY Yankees at Toronto – Yankees RHP Phil Hughes (11-9, 4.10) vs. Jays LHP J.A. Happ (7-10, 4.98): Hughes took the loss his last time out, allowing four runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings to the Tigers on Tuesday. He has been quite solid over the last two months, faring 8-4 with a 3.08 ERA in his last 12 starts. … Happ allowed four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings during his first start for Toronto on Tuesday. He spent the previous three weeks in the bullpen and was limited to 82 pitches but should be able to go deeper against the Yankees.
Kansas City at Baltimore – Royals LHP Bruce Chen (8-9, 5.51) vs. Orioles RHP Tommy Hunter (4-7, 5.55): Chen snapped a seven-game winless drought in his last outing, allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the White Sox. Chen is 20-9 with a 3.88 ERA in August for his career. He lost to Baltimore on May 25, giving up six runs in four innings. … Hunter was scratched from his Wednesday start after moving to the bullpen during Tuesday’s 14-inning marathon against Seattle. Sunday will mark his first action since allowing two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings on Aug. 3.
Oakland at Chicago White Sox – A’s RHP Jarrod Parker (7-6, 3.55) vs. White Sox LHP Chris Sale (13-3, 2.59): Parker has gone 2-3 with a 5.94 ERA since sitting with a 5-3 record and a 2.46 ERA on July 2. The rookie right-hander, who gave up four runs on nine hits to the Angels on Monday, has posted a 4.84 ERA in eight road starts. … Nine days between starts seemed to be beneficial for Sale, who touched 95 mph with his fastball during his eight innings against the Royals. Sale returns on normal rest, where he basically will pitch for the season’s remainder.
Tampa Bay at Minnesota – Rays RHP James Shields (10-7, 4.08) vs. Twins LHP Scott Diamond (10-5, 2.91): Shields won his 10th game of the season Tuesday, allowing one run over eight innings on just a pair of hits, a walk and a hit batter to go with six strikeouts. … Diamond was impressive again, as he tossed his team-leading 12th quality start against the Indians on Monday. He gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk over seven innings to become the club’s first 10-game winner since 2010.
Detroit at Texas – Tigers RHP Rick Porcello (9-6, 4.62) vs. Rangers RHP Yu Darvish (11-8, 4.57): Porcello faces a Rangers team he’s had little success against. He’s 2-2 with a 8.47 ERA in four career starts vs; them and has faced Texas twice this year, enduring a tough start in April but holding Texas to one run over six innings in June. … Darvish has beaten the Tigers twice this season. He allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings in a 10-3 victory April 19 and four runs in seven innings in a 7-5 win June 26. But since that game, Darvish is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA in his past six starts.
Seattle at LA Angels – Mariners LHP Jason Vargas (12-8, 3.69) vs. Angels RHP Jered Weaver (15-1, 2.13): The 29-year-old Vargas recorded his eighth straight quality start Monday, but saw his five-game win streak snapped in a 3-1 complete-game loss at Baltimore. Vargas is having his best season as a starter and was AL Pitcher of the Month in July. … Weaver’s been the one pitcher the Angels can count on this season, and he showed that again in his last start. With the team’s bullpen needing a break, the right-hander delivered with a complete-game shutout against the A’s.