|1:05 PM PT2:05 PM MT3:05 PM CT4:05 PM ET16:05 ET20:05 GMT4:05 1:05 PM MST3:05 PM EST3:35 PM VEN0:05 UAE (+1)3:05 PM CT, March 31, 2019
Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas Attendance: 36,812
Hamels faces former team in Cubs' finale vs. Rangers
Chicago Cubs at Texas Rangers
- The Cubs have posted four consecutive 90-win seasons for the second time in franchise history and the first time in over 100 years. They lead MLB with a .597 winning percentage since 2015; since that year, their pitchers rank second in ERA at 3.53 (Dodgers -- 3.48) and first in opponent batting average at .231.
- The Rangers went 67-95 in 2018, matching their 2014 campaign; they have not had a worse record since 1985, when they went 62-99. Combined with a 78-84 mark in 2017, it is the first time since 2007 and '08 that Texas has finished below .500 in successive years.
- Texas went 9-11 in interleague play in 2018; it was the Rangers' first losing season versus National League competition since 2006. The Cubs went 13-7 against the American League last season and are 40-20 in interleague play since 2016 -- second to only Boston's 46-14 mark.
- In each of the last four seasons, at least one Cub has finished in the top NL's top five in RBI: Javier Baez topped the NL with 111 last season. No Ranger has finished in the AL's top five in RBI since 2012, when Josh Hamilton was second with 128, and no Texas player has led the AL since 2008 (Hamilton -- 130).
- Jon Lester tied a career high with 11 road wins last season, going 11-2; his 2.87 road ERA was the lowest in his 13 seasons to date. Lester had a 2.55 ERA in interleague games last season after posting a 5.79 mark against AL clubs the previous year.
- With his Opening Day start for the Rangers, Mike Minor will pitch in the majors in consecutive seasons for the same team -- something he has not done since 2013 and '14 with Atlanta. Minor did his best work late last season, going 6-2, 2.97 with a .194 opponent batting average in his last 10 starts.
- Bryant injured as Cubs blown out by Reds
- A's rout Mariners for ninth straight win
- Biggio hits first homer, Jays rip Padres
- BoSox top Astros' Verlander, avoid sweep
- Odorizzi helps hot Twins sweep White Sox
For the second time in as many games, the Texas Rangers will face a former teammate when the visiting Chicago Cubs send left-hander Cole Hamels to the mound Sunday afternoon.
Hamels, who won 38 games with the Rangers from 2015-18 but couldn't get them past the division playoff series, went 4-3 with a 2.36 ERA for the Cubs last season after being acquired at the 2018 trade deadline. Texas rudely welcomed back right-hander Yu Darvish in an 8-6 win over the Cubs on Saturday to even the season-opening series at one game apiece.
The 31-year-old Darvish, coming off last season's early injury, didn't get out of the third inning and walked a career-high seven batters while allowing three early runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Even so, it was the Cubs' bullpen that coughed up a 6-3 lead by giving up five runs combined in the seventh and eighth innings.
Darvish's early departure, which forced Cubs manager Joe Maddon to go to Jose Quintana, means Jon Lester, the Opening Day winner for Chicago, will likely pitch Wednesday night against the Atlanta Braves, which would line him up to face the Pirates in the opener at Wrigley Field on April 8.
Darvish's disappearing first outing won't make the Cubs feel better about their $126 million investment in a pitcher who has been unable to return to the ace he was when he first came to the big leagues from Japan and joined the Rangers in 2012.
"The first couple batters I felt good," Darvish told reporters after the game. "But after that, I lost my command, especially the fastball."
Hamels provides another veteran presence on the mound, and the Cubs hope he will continue to deliver the quiet consistency that had made him a top pitcher in the game for years.
The Rangers will counter Hamels with newcomer Lance Lynn, who has bounced around from St. Louis to Minnesota to the New York Yankees to the Rangers in the last couple seasons. Texas signed Lynn to a three-year, $30 million contract in December. Lynn is another veteran starter the Rangers will need to produce more like his early years with St. Louis, when he won 60 games from 2012-2015.
At the time of the signing, new Texas manager Chris Woodward said signing Lynn was a "tremendous boost" to the organization.
"Obviously they want to go out and win games, and this move kind of solidifies that at the top of the rotation," Woodward said at the time of the signing. "We've got some pretty good arms at the top. ... It's a huge boost for all of us, just knowing that we're going to push this thing forward, and Lance is going to be a big part of it."
So far, Texas' starting pitchers have proved less-than-stellar. Mike Minor didn't get out of the fifth inning in the season-opening 12-4 loss to the Cubs, and Saturday's starter, Edinson Volquez gave up four earned runs, six hits and four walks in four innings pitched.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 31, 2019