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The Texas Rangers have taken a five-game lead in the American League West following a series win over the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are now nine games back after being swept by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The 70-50 Rangers didn't have the greatest road trip, as they lost three of four to the New York Yankees before recovering in Toronto. However, their lead over the Angels increased by three games due to an all-out collapse by the Halos (now 62-60) during a homestand which saw them go 3-7.
Meanwhile, the Oakland Athletics (65-55) have held their ground, staying in second place in the division after their sweep of the Cleveland Indians at home. They went 2-4 on their road trip before that, but didn't lose ground due to the subpar play of their divisional rivals.
Due to the Angels' free-fall, the Seattle Mariners sit just four games behind third place in the division, at 58-64. They are 13 games behind the first-place Rangers.
Michael Young hit a three-run homer and had five RBIs for the Texas Rangers in an 11-2 rout over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Young snapped a career-long 88-game drought between home runs. His last homer came May 7 in a win at Baltimore.
Rangers starter Matt Harrison (14-7) allowed two runs and two hits, struck out seven and walked one to match his career high for wins which he set last year.
Daniel Murphy stood out with a homer and a two-run double. Geovany Soto added three hits for Texas. The Rangers offense continues to dominate, as they are the first team to pass 600 runs on the season. Texas's 19 hits fell just short of their season-high 21 on April 17 in Boston.
The Rangers will host the Baltimore Orioles for a three game series beginning Monday, Aug. 20.
The Texas Rangers will be playing for a series win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Sunday's game, the final in a three-game set. The teams split the first two contests, with Toronto winning Friday's game 3-2 and the Rangers taking Saturday's contest 2-1.
Matt Harrison (13-7, 3.24 ERA) will take the hill for Texas this afternoon. The 2012 All-Star southpaw is coming off a solid performance (6 1/3 IP, 1 ER) in his last start, against the Yankees. He struggled in his only previous 2012 start against Toronto, going just 3 1/3 innings and giving up eight earned runs on eight hits.
Toronto will counter with Henderson Alvarez, who is 7-10 on the season, with a 4.48 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Alvarez has lost his last three starts, and took a no decision in his only other start this season against the Rangers after giving up four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings on May 26.
First pitch is scheduled for 12:07 Central, with coverage on Fox Sports Southwest.
Starter Roy Oswalt, filling in for the recently acquired Ryan Dempster, was shaky, with two walks and a balk. However, he allowed only one earned run, a line-drive single by third baseman Adeiny Hechavarria.
The Blue Jays attempted to get something going with stolen bases from Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose, but couldn't quite catch up to the Rangers, who needed six pitchers to seal the deal. Rangers closer Joe Nathan locked down his 24th save of the year with a clean inning that included two strikeouts.
With today's win the Rangers lead the series in Toronto, and also lead the Athletics in the AL West by 5.5 games.
The Texas Rangers will look to rebound from their 3-2 defeat Friday to the Toronto Blue Jays as they send Roy Oswalt to the mound to face off against Carlos Villanueva. Luis Martinez will start behind the plate in place of Geovany Soto for the Rangers, and Nelson Cruz is back to his usual No. 5 spot in the lineup.
Texas Rangers Starting Lineups
1. Ian Kinsler (R) 2B
2. Michael Young (R) SS
3. Josh Hamilton (L) LF
4. Adrian Beltre (R) 3B
5. Nelson Cruz (R) DH
6. David Murphy (L) RF
7. Mitch Moreland (L) 1B
8. Craig Gentry (R) CF
9. Luis Martinez (R) C
Toronto Blue Jays Starting Lineups
1. Rajai Davis (R) LF
2. Colby Rasmus (L) CF
3. Edwin Encarnacion (R) DH
4. David Cooper (L) 1B
5. Yunel Escobar (R) SS
6. Kelly Johnson (L) 2B
7. Jeff Mathis (R) C
8. Anthony Gose (L) RF
9. Adeiny Hechavarria (R) 3B
Texas will try to bounce back after dropping game one of the series on Friday, 3-2. The loss was the fourth in five games for the Rangers as the offense struggled to break through, giving starter Yu Darvish a tough-luck loss after giving up three runs in seven innings.
The Rangers will try to heat their bats up against Toronto's scheduled starter, Carlos Villanueva (6-2, 3.12 ERA). The right-hander was strong in his last outing, giving up just five hits and one run in seven innings against the Chicago White Sox.
The game is slated to start at 12:07 p.m. CT and will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest
Despite a strong effort from Yu Darvish, the Texas offense couldn't get anything going against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.
Yu Darvish was outstanding, but the Texas bats were unable to back him up, as the Rangers dropped the first game of a three-game set in Toronto by a score of 3-2. Toronto DH Edwin Encarnacion got the home team out to an early lead with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first. The Rangers got on the board when a Craig Jentry fifth-inning groundout scored Michael Young. Toronto immediately responded when a Rajai Davis single scored Anthony Gose in the bottom of the fifth. Adrian Beltre plated a run in the seventh off an error by Toronto third baseman Omar Vizquel, but the Rangers were unable to add the tying run.
Yu Darvish picked up the loss despite pitching seven strong innings, striking out ten Blue Jays and walking just one. Toronto starter J.A. Happ went six innings, conceding just one run on two hits. The loss drops the Rangers to 68-50 overall, with their lead in the AL West reduced to just 5.5 games and both Oakland and Anaheim playing late.
Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz has a sore hamstring and will not start Friday's Blue Jays-Rangers game in Toronto, according to a report from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Cruz is available, however, though he didn't start Thursday. He did enter the game late in a 10-6 Rangers win at New York and doubled and scored a run. Cruz has also dealt with back stiffness in the past week.
David Murphy gets the start in right field for Texas. Cruz is listed as day-to-day with his injury. He has never played more than 128 regular-season games in a year due to his penchant for injury, but is up to 115 this season and is batting .266 with 18 home runs and 70 runs batted in.
The Rangers conclude their current road trip with their weekend series in Toronto.
For more on the Rangers, head over to Lone Star Ball.
Ryan Dempster, acquired via trade from the Chicago Cubs to help bolster the Rangers starting rotation, will miss his scheduled start on Saturday due to personal reasons. According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Roy Oswalt will make the start in Dempster's place with outfielder Leonys Martin also being recalled.
Dempster has been placed on the restricted list and it's unknown if Dempster will miss just this start or more at the moment. The right-handed pitcher has struggled in three starts for the Rangers, allowing eight runs in his last outing against the Yankees on Monday.
As Lone Star Ball notes, the Martin call up is intriguing since it means the Rangers still don't have much of an option for a backup for the infield.
Martin's recall means that the Rangers will again have a four man bench, although they still have no true backup middle infielder. Martin played very sparingly when he was called up to the majors previously, and it remains to be seen whether he will start this weekend. If Martin does start, it would likely be on Saturday or Sunday, when the Blue Jays will roll out righthanders Carlos Villanueva and Henderson Alvarez, rather than tonight, when lefty J.A. Happ will start.
Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers look to further build their lead in the A.L. West when they head to Toronto for a three-game series against the Blue Jays.