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The Texas Rangers are hearing footsteps in the American League West from hard-charging Oakland, but they will have their ace on the mound when they host the Kansas City Royals on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series. Yu Darvish, who is coming off his third 14-strikeout performance of the season, goes for his eighth win in his second career start versus the Royals. Saturday's 10-inning loss to Kansas City cut Texas' lead to two games atop the division.
The Royals lost 20 of 25 games to close out the month of May, but opened June on a victorious note by scoring three times in the 10th inning on Saturday. It marked only the second win in 11 games for Kansas City, which pushed the across the go-ahead run when rookie David Lough was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Lough, who is batting .289, injured his wrist on the pitch and underwent X-rays that came back negative.
TV: 3:05 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports Southwest (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Ervin Santana (3-5, 3.33 ERA) vs. vs. Rangers RH Yu Darvish (7-2, 3.03)
Santana got off to a strong start in his first year with Kansas City, but his season has taken a turn for the worse and is bearing an eerie resemblance to a year ago. Santana has lost four straight starts while surrendering nine homers in that span, including seven in his last two outings. Santana was taken deep a staggering 39 times last year in his final campaign with the Los Angeles Angels.
Darvish has also been victimized by the long ball in the past month, serving up nine homers in his last six starts after not allowing one over his first four outings. Darvish is 0-1 in his last two turns following a a six-start stretch in which he was 5-0 and Texas backed him with 50 runs. The 26-year-old Japanese right-hander leads the majors with 105 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings.
1. Darvish is 4-1 with a 3.46 ERA in six home starts this season.
2. The Royals are 4-1 in extra-inning games.
3. Santana is 13-11 with a bloated 6.04 ERA in 27 career starts vs. Texas.
PREDICTION: Rangers 5, Royals 2