The Rangers halted one very troubling streak on Friday night, and on Saturday, they hope to see another one come to an end.
With a 5-4 win over the Twins in the opener of a three-game series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas snapped an eight-game losing streak, its longest since another eight-game slide in August 2005. Now that the losing skid has ended, the Rangers would love nothing more than for their ace to get back on track.
Over his last two outings, right-hander Yu Darvish hasn't resembled the overpowering starter American League hitters have become accustomed to, allowing eight earned runs in 11 innings (6.55 ERA). Before those two starts, he tossed a complete-game shutout against the Marlins, allowing six hits while walking three and striking out 10 on June 11.
But before that gem, Darvish had another shaky performance, giving up four runs on nine hits over seven innings, still managing to pick up the win against the Indians on June 6.
"It's not easy to fix problems like this, but there are ups and downs in a season so the problem that I had in the last start is different from what I had in the previous start," Darvish said. "So I just have to make the best adjustment I can and prepare the best I can for the next start. Yes, and I think everyone goes through these kinds of ups and downs, but you just have to go through it."
The team that will try to ensure the problems continue for Darvish is the Twins, who will counter with right-hander Phil Hughes. Hughes has had a roller coaster of a season to this point, posting a 5.14 ERA in April, enjoying an outstanding May with a 1.62 ERA, and so far this month posting a 3.71 mark.
He was hit hard in his last outing, surrendering five runs on eight hits over five innings against the White Sox last Sunday, though he still registered the win.
Hughes has pitched well in seven career appearances (six starts) against Texas, however, going 2-2 with a 2.09 ERA. He has limited Rangers hitters to a .189 batting average against him, which is the lowest among active pitchers with a minimum of five starts against Texas.
"They're a good offense," Hughes said of the Rangers. "Every team goes through ups and downs as the season wears on. They're capable of breaking out any night, so we just have to make sure we make good pitches, and that doesn't change whether a team's red-hot or in a slump. Like I said, there's really no difference in our approach other than trying to make good pitches."
Twins: Polanco gets first Major League hit
Infielder Jorge Polanco was recalled from Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Thursday, making him the first Twins player to be promoted to the big leagues while bypassing Double-A and Triple-A in the process since Jim Eisenreich in 1982.
Along with Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor, he is the youngest player in the Majors at 20 years old.
Polanco, Minnesota's No. 8 prospect, made his Major League debut on Thursday and notched his first big league hit in Friday night's loss to the Rangers, hitting a two-run triple in the ninth inning.
"I'm excited, it was a good moment," Polanco said of getting called up. "We all want to play in the big leagues as soon as possible, so I feel good about it."
Rangers: Beltre expected back at third on Saturday
After serving as the Rangers' designated hitter on Friday night, Adrian Beltre is expected to return to third base for Saturday's game. He has been the DH in four games this season.
Manager Ron Washington made the move on Friday so he could get rookie infielder Luis Sardinas out on the field as the Rangers evaluate young players throughout the rest of the season. Sardinas has made two starts at third, three at shortstop and 12 at second base this season.
"I'm trying to get him out on the field two or three times a week," Washington said of Sardinas.
Sardinas went 1-for-3 with a double in Friday's win and is batting .288 in 24 games this season.
• The Twins have been streaky as of late. Since June 10, they have won three straight, lost five straight, won four straight and lost four straight.
• Kendrys Morales is hitting .136 (3-for-22) against Darvish with nine strikeouts. That's the lowest batting average for any opponent with at least 20 at-bats against the right-hander.
• The Rangers' 5-4 win Friday was only their second in their last nine home games.
• Alex Rios is batting .481 (13-for-27) with four doubles, a home run and five RBIs in his career against Hughes.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.