Rangers notes: Revisiting Yu Darvish’s recent trend of late-inning struggles

Posted Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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No Texas Rangers player has created more of a stir the past week than Yu Darvish. The debates range from whether he is an “ace” to his ability to deliver a shutdown inning late in games.

The Rangers have lost the past three games Darvish has started despite leading or being tied after the fifth inning.

On Friday against the Twins, Darvish saw a 2-0 lead evaporate by giving up a pair of home runs in the seventh inning. In his previous start against the White Sox, Darvish gave up a game-tying, two-run homer in the sixth.

Manager Ron Washington said Darvish wasn’t fatigued on a hot night at Rangers Ballpark and simply made two bad pitches in the seventh.

Issuing a leadoff walk hurt him that inning, too, and Washington said having more success deep into games is something Darvish has to learn.

“He has to figure out a way to get through it,” Washington said. “It’s random. He’s never had issues getting through a ballgame in his career. He’s going to have to figure it out.”

Darvish said after the game that he is “very frustrated” with how his past few outings have gone, but he has still put together an impressive season. He is 12-6 with a 2.73 ERA and a major league-leading 236 strikeouts. He set a club record for most strikeouts in a single month with 64 in August.

The offense also hasn’t given him much support this season. In 13 of his 26 starts, he’s received two or fewer runs of support in games he’s pitched at least six innings. The only American League pitcher with more starts of that nature is Kansas City’s James Shields (14).

Andrus sidelined

Elvis Andrus won’t be in Sunday’s lineup after leaving Saturday’s game in the first inning with lower back tightness but could be ready to go by Monday when the team opens a three-game series in Oakland.

“I’m not playing tomorrow for sure,” Andrus said. “We’ll see how I feel for the Oakland series.”

Andrus, who was the designated hitter Saturday, had a one-out single in the first but came up limping after going first-to-third on a single by Ian Kinsler. Andrus said he felt spasms when he hit second base but said it is not related to his back issues earlier this season.

Adam Rosales pinch-ran for Andrus in the first and served as the designated hitter the rest of the game.

Help on the way

Neftali Feliz is ready to return to the big leagues 13 months after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery.

Feliz is one of seven players expected to be added to the Texas Rangers on Sunday when rosters expand. He’ll be joined by right-handers Nick Tepesch and Cory Burns, left-hander Michael Kirkman, designated hitter Lance Berkman, catcher Robinson Chirinos and outfielder Jim Adduci. Feliz and Kirkman, who are each on the 60-day disabled list, as well as Adduci, will all require corresponding moves to get them on the 40-man roster.

Feliz did not allow a run over eight medical rehabilitation appearances, two in the Arizona Rookie League and six with Triple A Round Rock.

Reports on Feliz were positive throughout his rehab process, although his velocity is sitting more in the 92-94 mph range rather than in the upper 90s as it was pre-surgery.

“I’m not focused on my velocity or throwing hard; that will come soon,” said Feliz, who deemed himself at about 97 percent healthy. “I’m just trying to keep the ball down and do as much as I can to get back here and help us get to the playoffs. I’m excited to be here.”

Manager Ron Washington said he will ease Feliz back into game action and try to avoid putting him in high-leverage situations early on.

Joining Feliz in the bullpen will be Tepesch and Kirkman.

Tepesch, on the DL since July 7 with right elbow inflammation, threw four scoreless innings in a rehab start Friday at Double A Frisco and likely is going to be used in long relief, but Washington said not to be surprised if Tepesch makes a start.

One more session

Right-hander Alexi Ogando, sidelined with an inflamed nerve in his right shoulder, came through a 35-pitch bullpen session Saturday with no issues and is scheduled to throw another 35-pitch bullpen session Monday in Oakland.

Ogando is not scheduled to make a rehab start after that considering that the Triple A Round Rock and Double A Frisco seasons will have ended, and he said he should be ready after Monday’s session. Ogando said he’ll leave it up to the organization whether it wants him to return to the rotation or go to the bullpen for the stretch run.

“I don’t know what the plan is for me,” Ogando said. “Of course I’d want to start, but it’s their decision.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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