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April 16, 2012

Week that was, week that is for Rangers

A quick review of the week of April 9-15 for the Texas Rangers:

April 9 (W, 11-5): Yu Darvish made his major-league debut, and salvaged a victory despite allowing four runs in a 42-pitch first inning and five overall. The offense, though, bailed him out behind homers from Nelson Cruz, Mitch Moreland, Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler. "Just like you saw tonight, those guys are incredible. Just incredible," Darvish said.

April 10 (W, 1-0): Neftali Feliz, another rotation member making his first big-league start, upstaged Darvish by throwing seven scoreless innings. Joe Nathan preserved the shutout with his second save.

April 11 (L, 4-3): Nathan suffered his second loss of the season, and the Rangers suffered the second loss, as Seattle scored three runs in the ninth for a 4-3 win. Nathan was working on consecutive days for the second time this season. He was tagged for the loss the first time, too. His ability to work on back-to-back days became an immediate concern.

April 12 (W, 5-3): Derek Holland prevented the Mariners from salvaging a series split with 7 1/3 innings. Michael Young had a homer and drove in four runs as the Rangers ended their opening homestand at 5-2.

April 13 (W, 4-1): Matt Harrison worked eight strong innings, producing 14 groundball outs, and the Rangers played spectacular defense in a victory that was only the club's second ever at Target Field. Eyebrows were raised when Alexi Ogando was the choice to save the game over Nathan, who was given an extra day of rest.

April 14 (W, 6-2): Darvish didn't win, but didn't lose either. He allowed two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings, but allowed 14 baserunners. The offense broke loose late to give Robbie Ross his first career victory. Nathan needed 26 pitches to get three outs in a non-save situation.

April 15 (W, 4-3): A quick three-run rally in the eighth inning, capped by a 449-foot two-run homer by Hamilton, led the Rangers their first three-game sweep in Minnesota since 1997. Feliz got a no-decision, pitching five-plus innings, and Ross won for the second straight game with two scoreless.

A quick look at this week:

Monday: The Rangers have their first off day of the season and their first since March 22 in spring training. Manager Ron Washington said that he might go mingle with the crowd gathered to watch the Boston Marathon.

Tuesday-Wednesday: Boston plays host to the Rangers for a quick two-game series. The Rangers might be hitting Fenway Park at the right time. CF Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder) is out, and so is LF Carl Crawford. The Red Sox's bullpen is in disarray after closer Andrew Bailey was lost to injury, and manager Bobby Valentine has sparked an uproar when he said that Kevin Youkilis wasn't playing with passion.

Thursday-Sunday: A rematch of the 2011 American League Championship Series will be staged at Comerica Park. Detroit added Prince Fielder in the off-season and still has Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, who is scheduled to pitch Saturday. Either Darvish or Harrison will open the series Thursday, depending on if the Rangers decided to use the right-handed Darvish to split lefties Holland and Harrison.

-- Jeff Wilson


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