Though the first month of the season has been a bit bumpy for Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox right-hander has begun to come into his own.
Buchholz lost two of his first four games but has won two straight, including his most recent outing against Oakland on Friday. In that contest, he tossed a solid 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on three hits.
"I felt good," Buchholz said after the start. "It's been a process between last start to this start, and as far as arm strength and everything, it seems to be coming along pretty well. That was the last phase I was getting through -- getting my arm strength fully back and trusting the pitches that I throw."
The Texas native will get a chance to show his progress in Friday's series opener against the Rangers and right-hander Yu Darvish at Globe Life Park.
Darvish is ready for the challenge of facing the defending World Series champions. He is 0-1 with a 5.93 ERA in two career starts against the Red Sox. In his last start against Boston on May 5, 2013, in Arlington, he allowed three runs on four hits over seven innings and struck out 14.
"Like all my starts, I will meet with my catcher and my pitching coach and come up with a game plan and try to do my best to go as deep in the game as possible without thinking too much about who I'm facing," Darvish said.
One familiar face for the right-hander will be A.J. Pierzynski, his catcher from last season. Pierzynski was behind the plate on April 2 when Darvish came within an out of a perfect game and again on Aug. 12 when Darvish came within six outs of a no-hitter.
"I'm looking forward to it," Darvish said. "It was a long season and we went through so many things. I almost threw a perfect game with him. I almost threw a no-hitter with him. Overall we got along very well."
Red Sox: Farrell impressed with Miller
• Left-hander Andrew Miller has become Mr. Reliable for manager John Farrell this season.
Miller leads the bullpen with 16 appearances, and he's struck out 16 batters and walked none in his last 10 2/3 innings.
Miller threw two perfect frames in Tuesday's 12-inning 4-3 win over the Reds. He struck out a season-high four.
"We know it takes the first two to three weeks of the season for things to click, but he's simplified his delivery," Farrell said. "He's pitching with a lot of confidence. He can miss bats and he can get away with pitches in the middle of the plate because he's an upper 90s type of guy. He has a lot going for him."
Rangers: Bullpen doing extra work
• The Rangers were hoping to have their bullpen rested by the time they face the Red Sox. They called up pitcher Scott Baker on Wednesday and he pitched 5 1/3 innings, then was designated for assignment so the Rangers could call up 20-year-old second baseman Rougned Odor.
The Rangers used four relievers behind Matt Harrison in Thursday's 5-0 victory over Colorado. The bullpen combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Rangers could have kept Baker by optioning Nick Martinez back to the Minor Leagues. But right now the Rangers want him in their bullpen rather than pitching every fifth day in the Minors. Martinez has a 2.29 ERA in two starts and three relief appearances while opponents are hitting .236 off him. He worked around two hits in an inning of relief Thursday night.
"We feel Nick can be a winning piece in the bullpen and we wanted to keep him," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
• Boston is tied with the Angels for the American League lead with eight one-run losses this season. Overall, the Sox have played an AL-high 13 total games decided by one run.
• Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is one home run away from tying Andre Dawson and Jason Giambi for 40th on the all-time list with 438 long balls.
• There are less than 2,000 reserved tickets remaining for Friday's game and 8,000 for Sunday. There are only obstructed view, singles and standing room only for Saturday.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.