Alexi Ogando tries to follow up a brilliant season debut on Monday when the Texas Rangers open a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark.
Ogando won 13 games as a starter in 2011, but the Rangers opted to have him pitch out of the bullpen last season. However, this offseason they made the decision to put him back in the rotation.
It seems to be the right move, as Ogando struck out a career-high 10 batters over 6 1/3 scoreless innings to beat Houston in his first start on Wednesday. He's now 14-1 with a 2.22 ERA when going at least six innings.
"He was outstanding," manager Ron Washington told the league's official website. "We were looking for him to build on his progress in spring training, and he did exactly what we needed him to do. He was outstanding.
"He used his change-up, moved the ball in and out and had a good breaking ball. He still didn't have (total) command of his fastball. He's usually able to do that up. But he'll start dotting it up before it's all over."
Texas got the last laugh on former teammate Josh Hamilton, as the Rangers took two of three from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over the weekend, including a 7-3 win in Sunday's rubber match.
Ian Kinsler homered and knocked in four runs, while Lance Berkman belted a two-run homer and David Murphy added a solo shot to help the Rangers earn their fourth win in six tries to start the season.
Yu Darvish (2-0), fresh off his near perfect game, allowed three runs on six hits and four walks over five frames before a blister on his pitching hand forced him out of the contest. The right-hander struck out six.
"I didn't have everything today. It wasn't my 100 percent, but I had to grind it out," Darvish said through his translator. "The reason I was able to do that was because of all the support from my teammates."
Tampa, meanwhile, was denied a sweep in its series with the Cleveland Indians over the weekend and was routed, 13-0, on Sunday.
Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner David Price (0-1) came in unbeaten against the Tribe, but was touched for eight runs on 10 hits and three walks over five innings. He had allowed just seven earned runs and 22 hits in six previous starts against them.
"I don't really have a positive from today," Price said. "They put it to us, and it was very rough."
Hoping for a better effort on Monday, the Rays turn to former AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson, who was awful in his season debut, but escaped without a decision. Hellickson was pounded by the Baltimore Orioles to the tune of five runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Hellickson has faced the Rangers twice and is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA.
The Rays took five of nine from the Rangers last year.