Despite the Rangers being ravaged by injuries this season and sitting in fourth place behind his American League West-leading A's, manager Bob Melvin knows the division rivals can't be taken lightly.
Melvin experienced it first-hand Monday, when the Rangers defeated the A's, 14-8, to take the first of a three-game series between the teams in Oakland. The two teams split their previous two series earlier in the season, each getting swept at home. The tug-of-war continues Tuesday when two 27-year-olds face each other on the mound. Right-hander Yu Darvish will get the ball for Texas, while left-hander Tommy Milone will take the mound for Oakland.
"[We are] fortunate enough to get off to a good start, but our division seems to be as tough as it's ever been this year, with Houston doing what they're doing right now, Seattle's a lot better, really impressed by what Texas is doing with the injuries that they've had," Melvin said. "You know they're going to get a little bit healthier, so it's a really good division. We take nothing for granted."
Darvish is 1-7 with a 4.73 ERA in nine career starts against the Athletics. He won his first start against them on May 16, 2012, and has lost seven in his last eight starts against them.
Darvish has pitched against them twice this season. On April 21, he allowed three runs in six innings and was not involved in the decision as the Rangers won, 4-3. He allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 4-0 loss to the Athletics on April 28. It was the shortest outing of his career.
Despite those numbers, Darvish is 6-1 with a 1.83 ERA in his past seven starts. In that stretch, he has held opponents to a .204 batting average and struck out 11.33 batters per nine innings.
Brandon Moss has four home runs off Darvish, tied with Mike Trout for the most against Darvish.
"They have some very patient hitters over there -- and when they do get a pitch they can do damage with, they don't miss," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They also make him throw a lot of pitches. … He's got to stay ahead of the hitters."
Darvish is coming off his first-complete game shutout Wednesday night against the Marlins. He gave the ball from the game to his father to display at the Darvish museum in Kobe, Japan.
Though he's aware of his struggles against the A's, Darvish said he's feeling prepared, and has been comforted by the words of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
"Greg Maddux told me last year that he didn't really have good numbers throughout his career in Arizona," Darvish said. "To know that a great pitcher like him had a team that he didn't have any good numbers, that kind of alleviates my thoughts."
Milone is 4-3 with a 3.47 ERA on the season, coming off of a win in Anaheim on Wednesday, when he gave up just one earned run in 6 2/3 frames.
Milone has not lost a game since May 3 -- good for a span of seven starts -- and took a no-decision against the Rangers on April 22 in Oakland, where he gave up three runs in six innings.
A's: Plan set for Reddick's rehab
Josh Reddick will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday, and he hopes to rejoin the A's in New York next Tuesday against the Mets.
Reddick, who hyperextended his right knee in Anaheim on May 31, will fly to Texas on Tuesday morning before meeting up with the Triple-A team in Round Rock on Wednesday. He expects to play several innings Wednesday and Thursday, rest Friday and play two more games in New Orleans over the weekend.
"They want to get me comfortable as possible," Reddick said. "I'm not opposed to that by any means, taking more days than usual."
Rangers: Robertson gets chance to lead off
Daniel Robertson was in the leadoff spot on Monday night with left-hander Drew Pomeranz on the mound for the Athletics. He could be there again on Tuesday against Milone.
"He takes pitches, doesn't swing much out of the strike zone and makes solid contact," said Washington.
Robertson, who started in center field, is still wearing a clear plastic mask on defense and a special batting helmet when he hits. He is still dealing with three small fractures in his left cheek bone, the result of colliding with outfielder Alex Rios on May 22 in Detroit.
"I'm a couple of weeks away from not having to wear any protection," Robertson said. "I've worn it so much, I really don't notice it. It just protects me if I do something wild and crazy, like running into a wall or trying to make a diving catch."
• Rangers reliever Robbie Ross has allowed six runs on eight hits over three innings in his last three outings.
"He's missing his spots," said Washington. "When he hits his spots, he's good. If he misses, that's when he gets in trouble. He's just not getting the ball where he wants it."
• Infielder Alberto Callaspo was reinstated from the paternity list Monday and Andy Parrino returned to Triple-A Sacramento.
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.