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Rangers seek quality start from Darvish vs. Blue Lays

TORONTO -- The Texas Rangers are looking for a good starting performance Saturday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays after injury limited their Friday night starter, A.J. Griffin, to 1 1/3 innings.

The Rangers' bullpen has pitched 24 of the team's past 58 innings.

"We kind of need to get back to the run of quality starts," Texas manager Jeff Banister said after the 7-6 loss to the Blue Jays. "We've had a couple of outings where a couple of relievers didn't record an out."

The Rangers could not have a better candidate to accomplish what is needed than the starter they send out Saturday: Yu Darvish.

Darvish is 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in his past six starts and is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA in his regular-season career against the Blue Jays. He did take the loss to Toronto in Game 2 of the American League Division Series last year.

The Blue Jays will counter with Marco Estrada, who is 2-0 with a 3.66 ERA in his past three starts. He is coming off a 12-strikeout performance over 7 2/3 innings in a 3-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards Sunday.

In four career starts against the Rangers, Estrada is 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA, allowing 15 hits and striking out 16 in 24 innings. He is 3-2 with a 3.30 ERA for the season.

Darvish (5-2, 2.83 ERA) is not expected to have to face Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki on Saturday. The infielders returned from the disabled list and both played Friday with Donaldson hitting a double and Tulowitzki taking two walks and hitting a single.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he planned to give both a day off Saturday as they work their way into the lineup after being out since mid-April.

The Rangers will put Griffin, who left in the second inning with an intercostal strain, on the 10-day list Saturday and Dillon Gee will be called up from Triple-A Round Rock. Gee will pitch out of the bullpen.

The Blue Jays (22-26) are gradually digging out of an early-season hole and have won four games in a row. The Rangers (24-25), who had a 10-game winning streak May 9-19, have lost four straight.

Second baseman Devon Travis, who hit his second career grand slam in the second inning Friday in extending his hit streak to 10 games, gushed about the return of Donaldson and Tulowitzki.

"Awesome, you can't explain the presence that those guys bring, not just to other teams but to guys in this clubhouse," said Travis, who also had a single and a double Friday. "When those guys step in the clubhouse and you see their names on the lineup card you know it's business, you can feel it, you can feel it in the clubhouse, you can feel it on the field, you can feel it in the crowd. We've got our team back; it's nice."

The Rangers made the game close Friday when Rougned Odor hit a three-run homer with two out in the ninth against Joe Smith.

"I think the story more than anything else is 2-for-15 in run-scoring opportunities," Banister said. "Anytime you have that ratio, it becomes a challenge. Our bullpen is still in decent shape. We've got Darvish going for us (Saturday). We'll look for him to give us some length and see if we can't freshen up some of those arms out there in the bullpen."