3 to Watch: The Yu against C.J. edition

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
The Rangers would have you believe that every game is the same, this time of year.

They'd have you believe that this weekend's series with the Angels is no more important than the series before or the series that follows. The way the Angels are playing, they may be right about that.

The Rangers would also have you believe that it makes no difference that they're facing C.J. Wilson on Friday night.

"C.J.'s a good pitcher, and he did some great things for us," Michael Young said. "But for us, we want to win for the sake of winning."

And they want to win this game as much as they've wanted to win every game all year. And win it big.

They didn't say that, of course. I did -- and so did everyone I talked to who knows the Rangers but doesn't actually wear a Texas uniform.

"That's what they say as professionals," former Ranger Darren O'Day said. "But I think they would trade an 0-for-4 the next day for a 2-for-4 that day.

"He'll want to beat them, and they want to beat him just as much."

It only makes it better that Wilson is pitching against Yu Darvish. After the Rangers allowed Wilson to leave as a free agent last winter, they took the money they could have spent on him -- and more -- and used it to go get Darvish.

The Rangers said nice things about Wilson, who pitched for them for seven years and was a big part of the back-to-back World Series teams. But it was also easy to see that they didn't think he could be a true No. 1 starter, and that they thought Darvish could.

The Angels, with Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, didn't need Wilson to be a No. 1. They've had no reason to be disappointed with him so far, as Wilson has gone 4-2 with a 2.61 ERA through six starts.

Wilson has similar numbers to Darvish, who is 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA through the first six starts of his Rangers career.

The Rangers and Angels haven't had similar seasons, taking a little away from this first meeting. But Wilson vs. Darvish adds plenty to it.

"From the fan standpoint and the media standpoint, it's perfect," Rangers outfielder David Murphy said.

From the Ranger players' standpoint, it's no more significant than any other game.

That's what they'd have you believe.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. A couple of weeks back, Weaver threw the Angels' 10th no-hitter. He became the sixth different Angels pitcher to throw a no-hitter. So what? Well, the Angels are exactly one year older than the Mets. They passed the 8,000-game mark last year. The Mets' 8,000th game is Mets at Marlins, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Marlins Park. And unless Johan Santana throws a no-hitter, the Mets will get to 8,000 games without a single no-hitter. For the record, Santana has had five career three-hitters, but never a two-hitter, a one-hitter or -- of course -- a no-hitter. The Marlins have been no-hit twice in their history, by Ramon Martinez of the Dodgers in 1995 and by Roy Halladay of the Phillies two years ago.

2. As exciting a prospect as C.J. vs. Darvish is, I might fly to Texas just to watch Josh Hamilton hit (except that CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller is already heading there). The home fans are due a few Hamilton homers. He's hit four in his first 13 games there this year, or the same number he had in five at-bats the other night in Baltimore. This weekend's Angels-Rangers series also features Weaver against Neftali Feliz on Sunday night, but the most interesting matchup is still C.J. and Yu, in Angels at Rangers, Friday night (8:05 ET) at Ranger Ballpark.

3. The Yankees don't need Andy Pettitte to throw a no-hitter, when he makes his first start in 19 months in Mariners at Yankees, Sunday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium. But with Michael Pineda out for the year and Freddy Garcia already exiled to the bullpen, the Yankees do need the 39-year-old version Pettitte to be somewhere near as effective as the 37-year-old version was a couple of years back. "I'm going to be disappointed if I don't [pitch like 2010]," Pettitte said on a conference call. "I know what they expect of me."


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