Rangers' lineup is test for young Blue Jays

Rangers' lineup is test for young Blue Jays

Rangers' lineup is test for young Blue Jays
TORONTO -- Blue Jays pitchers are facing a major test against a Rangers lineup that is one the best in the Majors. Kyle Drabek started the opener and 21-year-old rookie Drew Hutchison draws Tuesday's assignment, but manager John Farrell has plenty of faith in his two talented right-handers.

"This is notoriously a strong offensive team, they have a number of weapons," Farrell said. "I feel like Kyle is more prepared and equipped this year through the first four starts he's made than last year, and that's part of a normal progression for him or any young player. It will be a good test.

"We are [sending] out two very young pitchers in the next two nights, but they're our guys and we have trust and confidence in them. I think they will get a very clear read on where they stack up with what, at least in the American League at this point in time in the year, the best has to offer."

Entering Monday, the Rangers had scored the most runs in the Majors, were one of only two teams with an OPS above .800 and their 34 homers ranked second in the game, which isn't good news for the Blue Jays.

Toronto has allowed more long balls than any team in baseball, and its pitching staff is tied with the Twins for the most home runs surrendered overall.

Farrell is impressed with how his rotation has started the season, so while he respects the Rangers' lineup, he won't adjust his normal game plan against them. Toronto's skipper is confident his starters will do just fine and says that they have been feeding off one another each outing. Blue Jays starters have worked at least five innings in 24 consecutive starts dating back to last Sept. 27, and only the White Sox have a longer active streak in the Majors.

"To get off to a start where guys are going into the sixth, seventh, eighth inning, I think guys begin to watch others go out and do that and that becomes kind of the mindset as we set out in Spring Training that we set out to create," Farrell said. "But when others actually go out and do it, it's a living example and proof that this is what we're trying to create with every one of our starters.

"I'm confident we'll be prepared and we'll play with a lot of energy as we do every night. We have our hands full, that's a given, but I like our team and I like where we're at right now."