Matchup: Yu Darvish vs. Jon Lester
Darvish (5-1, 2.33 ERA): It's been a magical start to the season for Darvish, who won five games in April, the first Ranger hurler to do that since Aaron Sele and Rick Helling did it in 1998 ... Darvish was the Rangers' Player of the Month for April ... He won his last start despite giving up four runs in six innings ... Darvish allowed two runs in the first inning and a two-run home run on a hanging curveball to White Sox No. 9 hitter Dewayne Wise ... Otherwise, he dominated with nine strikeouts ... The seven hits and four runs were a season high allowed ... Darvish will be looking for revenge against the Red Sox after getting pounded at Fenway Park in his only start against Boston ... Darvish allowed six runs on 11 hits and four walks ... He leads the major leagues with 58 strikeouts and is second in wins behind Boston's Clay Buchholz ... Darvish's .170 opponent batting average is third best in the American League.
Lester (4-0, 3.11 ERA): Lester was rolling along just like Darvish until his last start at Toronto ... The left-hander allowed six runs on six hits and earned a no-decision in a 9-7 loss to the Blue Jays ... Before that, Lester had allowed six runs in his past four starts ... He hasn't allowed more than six hits in any one start ... Lester walked six in a win over Oakland. Otherwise, he's had pinpoint control with six walks total in his other five starts ... He's bounced back from a down 2012 in which he went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA ... In his first four full seasons, he had at least 15 wins and never had worse than a 3.47 ERA before last season's debacle ... Lester is 3-3 with a 4.57 ERA in 10 career starts against the Rangers ... He has lasted at six innings in all six of his 10 starts against the Rangers while allowing three runs or less ... He last faced the Rangers on Aug. 7, 2012, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks in 6⅔ innings for a loss ... Lester is 1-0 at Rangers Ballpark but hasn't start there since April 1, 2011.
Hitters: Dustin Pedroia (3-for-4, 3 2Bs, RBI) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2-for-4, 2 2Bs, RBI) were part of the 11-hit attack against Darvish last season. Jeff Baker (6-for-7, 1 2B) and Nelson Cruz (9-for-17, 1 HR, 2 RBIs) have more than handled Lester in his career.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.