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TEX@CWS: Darvish fans 11 over seven strong innings

The Rangers are rolling through their August slate, blitzing through a stretch of baseball that has vaulted them into the top spot in the American League West.

Texas began the month facing a four-game deficit in the standings. A 19-6 record during August -- best among AL teams -- has the Rangers on the inside track to the AL West crown.

On Friday, the club will have a chance to win 20 games in a month for the first time since June 2010, when the Rangers went 21-6. Last August, Texas posted a 19-10 mark.

"Last year, we were more comfortable," said third baseman Adrian Beltre. "This year, we are more hungry."

To notch their 20th win this month, Texas will be tasked with topping the Twins, a team that has impressed Rangers skipper Ron Washington.

"As the year has progressed, they're getting better," Washington said. "All those young kids are starting to perform better and starting to compete. Minnesota Twins teams usually compete well. They're so young. They have a couple of veterans, but for the most part they are a young team. But they will give you a tough time."

In Friday's series opener, Minnesota will send Australia native Liam Hendriks to the hill. The 24-year-old has logged an 0-2 record and 6.20 ERA in four starts for the Twins this season. He surrendered seven runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 7-2 loss to the Indians on Saturday.

"I got ahead of guys. The secondary pitches, they just weren't working," Hendriks said. "I couldn't throw a strike when I needed to. They took advantage of some bad pitches and hit them in the right spots as well."

He has just one career win in 24 starts.

"It's irritating, but I don't let it affect me," Hendriks said. "I'm happy to have at least one. Now it's just trying to string a couple together and move on and then move forward and it's further back in my mind. I want a couple more [wins]. Outings like [Saturday] aren't going to help."

Yu Darvish (12-5, 2.68 ERA) will toe the rubber for Texas. The Japanese right-hander has compiled a 3-0 mark and 2.23 ERA in five August outings.

"At this point of the year, it's about the game at hand," Washington said. "It's day to day down the stretch. I know we're playing well. To be in the hunt you need to play well."

Twins: Willingham put on waivers
Minnesota placed outfielder Josh Willingham on revocable waivers earlier in the week, and the Orioles were awarded the claim. The two teams can work out a deal or the Twins can pull him back off waivers.

"I don't think every player who has been through [waivers] has been tweeted, but that's just the way it is now," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the news coming out. "People find out. I'd imagine most of our players have been through waivers. You read about names like that, and I don't know how they get out there, but they do."

The Orioles, in need of a right-handed power hitter, also were awarded a claim on Seattle's Michael Morse.

Rangers: Darvish dominating
Darvish has posted a 4-1 record and 1.85 ERA over his last seven starts. During that span, opposing batters are hitting .186 off of the right-hander. Darvish has racked up 68 strikeouts in the seven outings, including four starts with 11 or more.

Whether he has established himself as a legitimate ace of a pitching staff remains up for debate. Darvish said he does not believe in such a role.

"I know what kind of pitcher I want to be ultimately," Darvish said. "I'm trying to get close to my expectations. I'm not trying to meet other expectations. I know what kind of pitcher I want to be."

Worth noting
• Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has at least one hit in 32 of his last 38 games. Over that stretch, he has raised his batting average from .242 to .264.

• Twins right fielder Wilkin Ramirez left Thursday's game against the Royals in the fifth inning after fouling a pitch off his left leg. The team announced the injury as a shin contusion. • Twins starter Samuel Deduno left with a right shoulder strain.

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