The Rangers' Yu Darvish and Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander will meet in a duel between two of baseball's premier pitchers Thursday night in the first game of a four-game series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. First pitch is 7:05 p.m. on FSSW, MLBN and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and ESPN Dallas Deportes 1540 AM.
Darvish (6-1, 2.73 ERA): Darvish has won four straight decisions and has 22 victories since the start of the 2012 season, the most in the major leagues. ... With 80 strikeouts, Darvish leads the major leagues. He's had 14 strikeouts twice and hit double-digits in four of his eight starts. He's averaging 13.67 strikeouts per nine innings, baseball's best mark. ... Darvish has allowed at least one home run in each of his past three starts, including two Saturday against Houston and two on May 5 against Boston. In his first five starts, he didn't allow a home run. ... Since the start of 2012, Darvish has 301 strikeouts, which leads the major leagues. ... Darvish went 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA against the Tigers last season. ... He is 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA and 39 strikeouts over four starts at Rangers Ballpark this season. He has won six straight starts at home, a streak that began Aug. 12, 2012, against the Tigers.
Verlander (4-3, 1.93 ERA): The hard-throwing right-hander has a 7-2 career record against the Rangers with a 2.02 ERA over 51.1 innings. He's struck out 57 and walked only 18. ... Verlander is a perfect 3-0 at Rangers Ballpark with a 1.29 ERA over 28.0 innings. He's struck out 34 and walked only four in those three wins. ... Verlander took the loss against Cleveland in his last outing, allowing six hits and three earned runs over just five innings, matching his shortest stint of the season. He struck out seven but struggled with his command and walked five. ... Before losing to Cleveland, Verlander had a two-game winning streak with victories over Minnesota and Cleveland. ... Verlander had double-digit strikeouts just once this season, fanning 12 at Seattle on April 18. ... Verlander has pitched at least seven innings in five of his eight starts but never more than 7.1 innings.
Hitters: Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter, a former Angel, has a career .333 batting average against Darvish, going 6-for-18 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs. Detroit 1B Prince Fielder is 2-for-6 with a double, a home run and three RBIs vs. Darvish. Third baseman Miguel Cabrera has just two hits in eight at-bats. ... Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre has a career batting average of .314 (11-for-35) against Verlander with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs. He's the only Ranger on the active roster who has homered off Verlander. Outfidler David Murphy is 5-for-17 with five singles. Second baseman Ian Kinsler (.120), right fielder Nelson Cruz (.133) and shortstop Elvis Andrus have all struggled against him.