Yu Darvish eyes his 14th win of the season on Monday when the Texas Rangers open a four-game set with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Darvish was terrific on Tuesday against Tampa Bay, as he scattered six hits over seven scoreless innings. He also struck out 10 batters and walked two to run his record to 13-9, while lowering his ERA to 4.31.
"I think I can continue to do this for the next month," Darvish said. "My body feels good, my preparation for the games feels good. Not so much that I'm going to get more excited or pump it up for the next month, just kind of continue this groove and pitch as normal as I can."
Darvish has struck out 37 in his past four outings and 182 on the season. He needs seven more to match Edwin Correa's rookie team record (189) established in 1989.
The Rangers continued to fend off the surging Oakland Athletics over the weekend, as they took two of three from the hapless Cleveland Indians, and now lead the American League West by just three games.
On Sunday, highly touted prospect Jurickson Profar homered in his first major league at-bat, and Texas beat Cleveland, 8-3.
The scrawny Profar, the first player born in 1993 to appear in the majors, began his big league career by crushing Zach McAllister's 2-1 fastball about 15 rows into the right-field seats.
"I didn't feel any pressure," Profar said. "I got a fastball and put a good swing on it."
Kansas City, meanwhile, salvaged the finale of its series with the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, as Tony Abreu went 3-for-4 with three RBI, including a go- ahead RBI single in the sixth, propelling the Royals to a 6-4 win.
Billy Butler, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer each drove in a run for the Royals, who dropped both games of a doubleheader on Saturday after Friday's opener was rained out.
Luis Mendoza gave up two runs in the start, also allowing seven hits and striking out three over five innings of work. Tim Collins (5-2) pitched the sixth inning and got the win despite giving up two runs.
Today, the Royals will rely on lefty Bruce Chen, who is 6-0 over his last nine home starts with a 3.69 ERA. Chen continued his home mastery on Wednesday against Detroit, as he scattered four hits over eight scoreless innings to improve to 10-10 overall to go along with a 5.13 ERA.
"He made it look pretty easy, to be honest with you," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Chen beat the Rangers the last time he faced them and is 2-2 with an 8.62 ERA in nine games (5 starts).
Kansas City has won three of its five meetings with the Rangers this season.