Yu Darvish and Wei-Yin Chen have faced each other once, but it was before either of them donned their respective Texas and Baltimore jerseys.
It was when they were both in Japan, Darvish pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters, Chen for the Chunichi Dragons. Darvish came away with a 1-0 victory on a three-hitter while striking out 10, and both threw complete games.
Weather permitting, the two will meet again Thursday for the first time since June 8, 2011, and for Darvish's first regular-season start against the Orioles. It will also be his first appearance ever at Camden Yards, where Baltimore will go for a four-game sweep.
His only start against the Orioles came in the 2012 Wild Card playoff game, where he allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss. The winning pitcher for the Orioles was Joe Saunders, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers on Tuesday.
"I know there are a lot of home runs in this ballpark," Darvish said. "I try not to think about it, but just try and go as deep in the ballgame as I can."
Darvish has had to carry the Texas rotation, but said that it doesn't add any extra pressure when he takes the mound.
"I can only pitch once every five days, so there is no burden on my shoulders," Darvish said. "I just have to do my job on the day that I start."
He added that he's looking forward to facing Nelson Cruz, a former Ranger who now plays for Baltimore.
Cruz is the American League's top vote getter for designated hitters per Monday's release, and enters Thursday's matchup hitting .280.
"I look forward to facing him," Darvish said. "I look forward to facing really good hitters, so I'm looking forward to facing them."
As for Chen, he's coming off one of the worst outings of his career in his last start against the Rays. The lefty pitched a career-low 3 1/3 innings on Saturday and gave up five earned runs to go along with seven hits and two walks. He's now 7-3 with a 4.19 ERA.
To his advantage, the O's have been giving their pitchers solid run support as of late. They homered for their 12th straight game Wednesday and have had multiple home runs in 25 of 41 games.
Rangers: Washington staying with Choice
Rookie outfielder Michael Choice is expected to be in the lineup on Thursday with Chen on the mound for the Orioles. Choice, a right-handed hitter, did not start with left-hander T.J. McFarland on the mound against the Rangers on Tuesday night. It's rare when Choice is not in the lineup with a left-hander on the mound.
"I just thought he needed a day off," manager Ron Washington said. "It didn't matter who was throwing. He didn't have a good night the night before so I didn't want it to snowball."
Choice has struggled to get his batting average above the .200 mark this season, but Washington is sticking with him. Choice was in the lineup on Wednesday with right-hander Chris Tillman on the mound.
"I don't think he is overwhelmed," Washington said. "He is making adjustments and it takes time for the adjustments to kick in. I know people look at the averages but he is making adjustments and we're going to give him time to make those adjustments. Right now we're finding out if he can handle adversity."
Orioles: Norris could return early next week
Bud Norris could return for one of the Orioles' two games in Washington, D.C., on Monday or Tuesday -- there's a reason he's been taking some batting practice -- but he will have to pitch some time before then. It may just be a simulated game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, or it could mean a start somewhere in the Minors.
"The decision's going to be -- not if but when -- whether he needs to go pitch somewhere or take a sim game here and that's enough," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "He won't go just from a side day into starting."
Norris, who hasn't played since June 21 due to a right groin strain, threw a bullpen session in Baltimore on Wednesday. Norris will take pitchers' fielding practice on Thursday and will throw a side session on Friday.
Norris is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday.
• With a left-hander pitching for the Orioles on Thursday, Adam Rosales is expected to get his first start at first base for the Rangers. Chris Gimenez is expected to be behind the plate with Darvish pitching for the Rangers.
• The Rangers are 5-1 on Thursday this season.
• First baseman Chris Davis is still struggling offensively for the Orioles. His batting average is .206, and he's only hit two homers since June 14.