Texas Rangers

Rangers-Indians preview: First test comes against defending A.L. champs

The Texas Rangers couldn’t ask for a better test than the Cleveland Indians to open the 2017 season.

The defending American League champion Indians are favorites to repeat as A.L. Central champions and for good reason. Their pitching staff is one of the best in the majors, including the 2014 Cy Young winner right-hander Corey Kluber, who attended Coppell High School.

Kluber faces Yu Darvish, who is making his first Opening Day start for the Rangers, who have won consecutive A.L. West titles but have been eliminated in the first round both times. Darvish started five openers in Japan from 2007-11. Darvish only pitched 100 innings a season ago, his comeback season from Tommy John surgery in March 2015. But 2017 could be the real comeback season for Darvish, who is in the last season of his original Rangers’ contract. The Rangers are expecting big things from their ace and Darvish knows it. Although, obviously, it’s just one game, Monday’s opener could be an indication of the type of season Darvish hopes to have.

The Rangers are 12-11 in home openers at Globe Life Park but have lost two of their past three. Until last season’s win against the Mariners, the Rangers had lost three consecutive openers. Overall, the Rangers are 22-23 all-time on Opening Day. This will be the first night season opener at home for the Rangers since April 9, 1990, when Nolan Ryan held the Blue Jays hitless over five innings.

Quick hits: The Rangers won five of seven against the Indians in ’16 ... right-hander Mike Hauschild and OF/INF Drew Robinson are seeking their major league debuts ... Adrian Beltre’s streak of 15 consecutive Opening Day starts will be snapped while he begins the season on the disabled list.

The series details

Monday: RHP Yu Darvish vs. RHP Corey Kluber, 6:08 p.m. (TV: ESPN, FSSW)

Tuesday: LHP Martin Perez vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco, 7:05 p.m. (TV: FSSW)

Wednesday: LHP Cole Hamels vs. RHP Danny Salazar, 7:05 p.m. (TV: FSSW)

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

Opening Day schedule

1 p.m. Globe Life Park cash parking lots open

3 p.m. Globe Life Park gates open

3:20 p.m. Rangers batting practice

4:20 p.m. Indians batting practice

5:41 p.m. Indians introductions

5:47 p.m. Raising of ’16 A.L. West Division Championship flag

5:48 p.m. Rangers introductions

5:56 p.m. National Anthem, sung by Rangers’ third base coach Tony Beasley

6 p.m. Ceremonial first pitch by Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams

6:08 p.m. First pitch

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram