ARLINGTON, Texas -- All Yu Darvish has done in every one of his starts over the past two months is give the Texas Rangers a chance to win.
A quality-start streak that is now at eight outings isn't enough for the right-hander, though.
"I'll be satisfied when I put all zeros on the scoreboard," said Darvish, whose streak is tied for the third longest in the American League this season. "Until then, I've still got work to do."
Darvish (5-3, 3.01 ERA) will look to put in that work Sunday when the Rangers host the Houston Astros in the finale of a three-game series.
He will oppose Collin McHugh (9-10, 4.80 ERA), who will attempt to keep the Astros within hailing distance of the Rangers in the American League West and keep them from getting swept out of Arlington. The Rangers lead the Astros by 10 1/2 games following a 12-4 win Saturday.
To salvage one game in the series, the Astros must figure out a way to beat Darvish.
He hasn't won either of his two starts against Houston this year, but he has only allowed one run in 12 innings. He is 4-3 lifetime against the Astros with a 3.08 ERA.
Darvish has been around long enough to know that what he has done in the past against Houston won't matter Sunday.
"I'm just trying to take it as any other game," he said. "Every game is important at this point. I know it's important, but I'm just trying to go as deep as I can for the team to win."
As well as Darvish has been pitching recently, he knows he has room for improvement. He has struggled with his command on his slider, which is one of his best weapons.
"I think it's coming from changing my arm slot," said Darvish, who beat the Seattle Mariners on Monday, when he allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings. "I'm throwing more over the top, and that makes it hard to flip a slider. If I feel like I need to make an adjustment for the slider, I will. But at this point, I feel confident with what I've got. I'm not worried about sliders."
McHugh has had success against the Rangers, too. He was rocked in his lone start against the Rangers this year, giving up four runs and lasting just 3 2/3 innings. however, that was the only time he lost to Texas, as he is 4-1 for his career in six starts.
McHugh is also coming off a solid outing, as he beat the Oakland A's after allowing just four hits over six scoreless innings Tuesday.
Manager A.J. Hinch has confidence McHugh can rise to the big-game occasion Sunday. The 29-year-old right-hander just needs to get ahead of an aggressive Texas lineup.
"His breaking ball is usually a catalyst for him to be good, especially against this team that doesn't come off the fastball very easily," Hinch said. "There is some chase to this team. He's got a chase breaking ball, but that all starts with throwing early strikes so he gets into a place where he can use his breaking ball."