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MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - INSIDE PITCH

While on the disabled list with a fatigue-induced midsummer sabbatical, right-hander Yu Darvish discovered yet another pitch for his arsenal. This one may be the best yet.

It is -- how do you say it? -- a fastball.

For the third straight start since coming back from his two-week DL stint, Darvish on Thursday displayed a particularly sharp fastball in dominating Arizona on the way to a 7-1 win. Darvish recorded his first six outs on strikeouts, eight of his first nine and 10 of his first 12. He finished with 14 strikeouts in seven innings, matching his season high.

Actually, it's kind of becoming a regular thing. The 14-strikeout performance was his fourth of the season. It sets a club mark for most games with at least 14 strikeouts. Nolan Ryan had three such games in 1990.

After falling into a pattern of throwing more offspeed pitches than fastballs and cutters, Darvish spent his time on the DL working on command. The results have been spectacular.

While throwing fastballs or cutters 69 percent of the time, he has allowed just one run in 19 1/3 innings while striking out 19. Using the fastball to set up his devastating slider has been much more effective than letting hitters sit on the slider and react to more occasional fastballs.

"It was as good as I've seen all year," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said of the fastball command. "He moved to both sides of the plate. In that situation, you just try to keep him going."

Ever the perfectionist, Darvish disagreed slightly with Pierzynski's assessment.

"It wasn't as good as my last start," said Darvish, who lost 1-0 in his last start at Cleveland. "But when I needed to throw it, I was able to execute it."

It gives the Rangers even more confidence that their rotation, particularly those guys who would anchor a playoff rotation, is as good as any in the league. Since right-hander Matt Garza was acquired July 22, the trio of Garza, Darvish and lefty Derek Holland have a composite ERA of 2.05 in seven starts.

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MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 60-49

STREAK: Won four

PAST 10 GAMES: 5-5

NEXT: Rangers (Alexi Ogando, 4-3, 3.05) at Athletics (Tommy Milone, 9-8, 4.03)

PLAYER NOTES:

--DH Lance Berkman, who had been considering retirement because of a lingering left hip injury, said he will continue rehabilitation in the hope of returning to the team later this month. Berkman said his return will hinge on when he can run the bases, though he's shooting to begin a rehabilitation assignment Aug. 8 or 9. Berkman has missed 22 games with left hip inflammation. "I've made up my mind that this is what this team needs to happen and I'm going to do my dangdest to give them everything I've got," Berkman said.

--RHP Yu Darvish was dominant in 7-1 victory over Arizona on Thursday. He matched a career-high 14 strikeouts and gave up five hits over seven innings. Darvish has a major-league-best eight games with 10 strikeouts or more this season, and his 16 in 50 career starts are second only to Dwight Gooden, who had 20 in 1984-85. "He was throwing fastballs to the corners, he had a really good split tonight and had a really good slider," C A.J. Pierzynski said. "He just kept mixing it up and the strikeouts kept coming." Darvish said the inconsistent movement on his slider "worked in my favor."

--RF Nelson Cruz went 0-for-3 with a 50-game suspension looming for his alleged association to the Biogenesis PED scandal. Cruz, who left the game early as a precaution against aggravating a left quad strain, could appeal a suspension, though he reiterated on Thursday that he hasn't made any decisions about an appeal if or when the decision is handed down. "It's tough. I mean, we're in a good situation now, we're close to first place and close to the wild card also," Cruz said. "Hopefully everything plays well."

--SS Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest active streak on the majors. Andrus, who struggled in the weeks leading up to the All-Star break, is hitting .333 during the streak to raise his average to .253 and has reached base in 27 of the past 29 games.

--1B Mitch Moreland, 4-for-43 since the All-Star break entering the game, belted only his third home run in his last 36 games. "It's always good to get a home run," Moreland said. "I'm just trying to continue to build on the process. It was a good day for all of us."

--RHP Alexi Ogando will start the opener of a three-game series against AL West Division leader Oakland. Ogando is 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA in two starts since returning from the disabled list. The loss came in his last start, 6-0 to Cleveland, as he gave up one run in 4 2/3 innings. Ogando defeated Oakland in May, giving up two runs on four hits and three strikeouts in six innings of a 6-2 victory. "It's important because Oakland is in first place, but it's not do or die," said manager Ron Washington, whose team enters 3 1/2 games behind the A's.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was as good as I've seen all year. He moved to both sides of the plate. In that situation, you just try to keep him going. He was throwing fastballs to the corners, he had a really good split tonight and had a really good slider. He just kept mixing it up and the strikeouts kept coming." -- C A.J. Pierzynski, after RHP Yu Darvish tied a season high with 14 strikeouts.

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MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

--RHP Neftali Feliz (Tommy John surgery in August 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list March 24. He has started throwing off a mound in Arizona. Feliz threw his third bullpen session June 26 but will only throw fastballs. He was throwing bullpen sessions but not facing live hitters as of July 18. He's throwing live batting practice sessions at the club's spring training facility in Arizona as of July 28. He will make his rehab assignment debut Aug. 2 in the rookie-level Arizona League.

--RHP Colby Lewis (right flexor tendon surgery in July 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 6. He began throwing live batting practice April 8, and he pitched in extended spring training May 4. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on May 9, but his rehab was then shut down due to triceps soreness. Lewis began a new rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on May 20, and he started for Round Rock on May 25. On May 28 the team shut him down due to muscular soreness in the back of his right elbow. He was given a platelet-rich-plasma injection. He threw a bullpen session June 17. He did some long-tossing June 25 in Arlington, then threw bullpen sessions in late June and early July. He threw live batting practice July 9. He started a rehab assignment on July 17. He made a rehab start July 22 for Double-A Frisco and his third one July 28. He will make his last rehab start Aug. 3 for Double-A Frisco. After that outing, he could rejoin the Rangers.

--DH Lance Berkman (inflamed left hip) went on the 15-day disabled list July 7. He took batting practice July 22. Berkman may not return due to his three-time surgically repaired right knee, which can no longer reach the full extension necessary to give him a good base for a powerful swing. He struggled to do some light running July 30 and the club opted to cancel his scheduled round of batting practice. He is shooting to be able to begin a rehab assignment on Aug. 8 or 9 and rejoin the team by Aug. 13.

--LHP Matt Harrison (lower-back soreness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 25. He had surgery April 23 to repair a herniated disk. He underwent a second operation May 1. He began a rehab assignment July 31 with Double-A Frisco and is expected to pitch against Aug. 4. He could be ready to join the Rangers by late August.

--RHP Nick Tepesch (inflamed right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 6.

--LHP Michael Kirkman (recurrence of cutaneous lymphoma on right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 12. The cancer, which will be treated with radiation sessions, was found during a routine screening in May by Rangers doctors. He was first diagnosed with skin cancer in the same area in January 2012.

ROTATION:

LHP Derek Holland

LHP Martin Perez

RHP Yu Darvish

RHP Matt Garza

RHP Alexi Ogando

BULLPEN:

RHP Joe Nathan (closer)

RHP Jason Frasor

LHP Robbie Ross

RHP Tanner Scheppers

LHP Neal Cotts

RHP Joakim Soria

RHP Ross Wolf

CATCHERS:

A.J. Pierzynski

Geovany Soto

INFIELDERS:

1B Mitch Moreland

2B Ian Kinsler

SS Elvis Andrus

3B Adrian Beltre

INF Jurickson Profar

OUTFIELDERS:

LF David Murphy

CF Leonys Martin

RF Nelson Cruz

OF Engel Beltre

OF Jeff Baker

OF Craig Gentry

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