Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish has returned from the disabled list to throw three impressive starts. He'll look to continue his second-half success Tuesday against the Angels and Garrett Richards at Angel Stadium.
Darvish is 2-1 with a 0.47 ERA in his last three outings following his first career stint on the disabled list with a right trapezius strain. The All-Star pitcher struck out 14 of the 26 batters he faced, tying a career high, in seven scoreless innings against the D-backs on Thursday. It was his club-record fourth game of 14 or more strikeouts this season.
"I have had three really good starts, but I've got to be humble," Darvish said through an interpreter. "You don't know what will happen in the future. I have to stay focused and pitch my game every time out."
Darvish is 5-1 with a 3.83 ERA in eight career starts against the Angels, the most starts against any opponent in his career. He's allowed fewer than three runs in seven of those eight starts. The Angels lineup has a .198 opponents batting average against Darvish, with three home runs, 10 RBIs and 45 strikeouts.
"They still have a lot of talent and can do the little things," Darvish said. "They are still a threat."
While the Angels are in fourth place in the American League West, 13 games behind the A's for first place, Mike Trout said this series is still important. It might not be as anticipated as it was at the start of the year, but that doesn't matter to Trout.
"We need to win," Trout said. "We have to get out here and play well, and that's what our focus has to be. At some point the standings are going to become relevant. We're obviously not where we want to be, but it doesn't change what we need to do. We need to play good baseball like we did over the weekend and win ballgames."
They may have to do it without second baseman Howie Kendrick, who hyperextended his left knee in the fifth inning of Monday's loss. He's scheduled to have an MRI on Tuesday but is hopeful of avoiding a trip to the disabled list.
Richards will make his third start since rejoining the rotation. He's 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last two starts. He is 1-0 with a 5.79 ERA in seven career games (three starts) against the Rangers. He won't have to face Nelson Cruz, who is serving a 50-game suspension for violation of Major League Baseball's Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program.
"We'll deal with it and continue to play Texas Rangers baseball," said Rangers manager Ron Washington, whose team has won seven of eight and is two games behind the first-place A's. "The game doesn't stop when a guy is not there. The game goes on. There have been some tremendous players who have left the game and we're still here. Just go play baseball. It's simple. We can do that.
"We've got to stick together. We have been through adversity and came out on the other side. We've been there. We're not going to let outside forces pull us apart."
Angels: Madson released
• The Angels released reliever Ryan Madson on Monday as he continued his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
The Angels will pay the remainder of Madson's $3.5 million base salary for 2013, but because he never took the mound, they saved on the performance bonuses that totaled an extra $3.5 million.
"It certainly wasn't Ryan's plan to not pitch two years in succession; it certainly wasn't our plan," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "We've gone through every possible form of rehab -- medical advice, medical health, he's been to visit specialists in New York and Phoenix and Florida. He's covered the globe, and we're continuing to try and help him today. He's gone through a long rehab -- an unexpectedly long rehab -- and to that point, it's very disappointing to Ryan, and I know it's very disappointing to us."
Rangers: Berkman closer to rehab assignment
• Lance Berkman thinks he's close to starting a rehabilitation assignment. He was placed on the disabled list on July 7 with a left hip inflammation, but he's recently made improvements during batting practice and running on the field.
His goal is to begin the rehab assignment by the end of the week, although he's unsure if he'll hit that target.
• With the absence of Cruz, the Rangers called up outfielders Joey Butler and Engel Beltre from Triple-A Round Rock and designated infielder Adam Rosales for assignment.
• The Rangers lead the season series 8-2. They've won 14 of their last 15 games against AL West opponents.
• Josh Hamilton is 14-for-40 against his former team this year with a home run, seven RBIs and nine strikeouts.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.