It could be a windy Saturday night beside Lake Erie.
Strikeout machines Yu Darvish and Justin Masterson are slated to square off in Cleveland, where overmatched swings could produce healthy gusts.
Darvish (9-4, 2.86 ERA) leads the American League in punchouts. Masterson (11-7, 3.60 ERA) ranks fourth. The All-Stars have combined to fan 306 batters in 268 innings.
Darvish dazzled against the Yankees on Monday, when he limited New York to two hits and two walks over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. It marked his first outing since July 6, as he rested for more than two weeks with a strained right trapezius muscle.
"I feel good to go," Darvish said. "I can go every five days but now I know there's some days where we have a day off."
Masterson will attempt to help the Indians keep pace with AL Central-leading Detroit. Cleveland sits three games back entering Saturday's action.
Indians manager Terry Francona admitted that he keeps an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard. It is approaching that time of year, after all.
"I always look at the American League [scores]," Francona said Friday. "... In between innings, especially. Some of it I just enjoy. It kind of helps relax me."
The Indians have closed July with an eye on the division crown each of the last two years, only to wilt in the late-summer heat. Francona believes this year's bunch has the potential to buck that trend.
"I think we're good enough to win," Francona said. "I just know that we have to play very good baseball. Let's see if we can do that."
As for Texas, skipper Ron Washington watched his club tally eight runs and 14 hits in Friday's 11-8 loss to the Tribe. The Rangers, who trail the A's in the AL West race, had averaged 2.1 runs per game over their previous eight tilts.
"Inconsistent," Washington said of the offense. "Whatever the definition of that is, it's just inconsistency. I think there are days when we're about to come out of it and then we don't. We need to keep grinding and hopefully we'll find ourselves. We get a couple of hits and then fizzle out. We've got to string some hits together and find simple ways to score runs. I guess you call that manufacturing runs. We certainly haven't been able to manufacture any runs."
Rangers: Darvish hoping for help
Darvish has not been the beneficiary of much run support lately. The Rangers are 3-7 in the right-hander's last 10 starts, despite Darvish posting a 2.77 ERA over that span.
• Shortstop Elvis Andrus singled to left field in the seventh inning of Friday's loss. He has hit safely in all 35 career games against Cleveland, tied with Ken Griffey Jr. for the longest hit streak against the Indians since 1945. In that time frame, only Vladimir Guerrero (44 games against the Rangers) and Jacoby Ellsbury (38 games against the Orioles) have compiled longer streaks against an opponent.
Indians: Tribe looking at trade options
General manager Chris Antonetti addressed reporters on Friday, as the Indians ponder potential moves with the non-waiver Trade Deadline looming.
"He didn't say get a new manager, did he?" Francona joked.
Antonetti said the organization will not limit itself when exploring possible upgrades to the roster.
"There's really not an area of the team we haven't explored, or an area where we haven't tried to improve," Antonetti said. "Now, again, some areas are easier to improve than others and some areas have more options available for us to pursue. But we haven't limited ourselves in how we're trying to improve."
• Masterson has already matched his win total from the 2012 campaign, when he went 11-15 with a 4.93 ERA. This year, he is tied for the Major League lead with three shutouts. He held the Twins to just one run on one hit and no walks in seven innings of a victory on Sunday.
• Since the ballpark opened in 1994, the Rangers' .575 winning percentage (50-37) at Progressive Field is the second best of any AL team.
• The Indians are 14-4 against the AL West. The .778 winning percentage against that division is the best in the Majors.