Yu Darvish will start Rangers’ playoff opener

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Ron Washington announced that Yu Darvish will start the Rangers’ first playoff game whether it’s the one-game Wild Card matchup or Game 1 of the ALDS.

Matt Harrison pitched last night and Ryan Dempster starts Game 162 this afternoon, so Darvish was the obvious choice.

Darvish’s overall 3.90 ERA isn’t great and he’s struggled to consistently throw strikes while walking 89 batters in 191 innings, but he’s definitely shown the ability to dominate a lineup when on his game.

Darvish ranks second among AL pitchers with 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings and third in the league with a .220 opponents’ batting average. And he finished the season on a very strong note, going 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 67/15 K/BB ratio in 57 innings over his final eight starts.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman not considering demoting struggling Greg Bird

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Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.

GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”

Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.

Chris Archer threw behind Jose Bautista

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Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.

Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.

The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.