August 6, 2012

Texas Rangers run into double trouble in Boston

Yu Darvish gives up the most doubles by a pitcher in Rangers franchise history, and the Red Sox roll to a victory at Fenway Park.

BOSTON -- The stat line might not show it, but Ron Washington and Yu Darvish both believed his start on Monday night was a step forward.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had a different perspective on the matter.

"I never saw him look like that," said Valentine, who managed against Darvish in Japan. "He wasn't very good, actually. His stuff was flat, I thought. He's working on stuff, I guess. I don't know."

Darvish went into the game focused on throwing more strikes, and he did that. On the negative side, the Boston Red Sox roped balls down the line, in the gaps and off the Green Monster all night.

In the end, Darvish had given up the most doubles by a pitcher in franchise history, and the Red Sox rolled to a 9-2 victory at Fenway Park.

Darvish exited the game after giving up six runs and seven doubles over 62/3 innings, throwing a season-high 123 pitches and allowing a season-high 11 hits. He has given up at least six runs in four of his past five starts, and has lost four of his past five decisions (six starts).

"For anybody, when things don't go their way, it's natural you feel frustrated," said Darvish, who has a 7.76 ERA in his last five starts. "I'm sure a lot of players go through this. It's important for me to not break and stay focused and prepare well for each start. I just have to bear down and grind it out."

Darvish didn't get lit up by nobodies.

The Red Sox's top four batters -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez -- accounted for all the doubles.

Pedroia had a two-out double in the first and that was the only one that didn't lead to an RBI or a run.

Ellsbury led off the third with a double and scored on a two-bagger by Crawford. Two batters later, Gonzalez doubled to bring in Crawford as Boston grabbed a 2-1 lead.

"Maybe I was throwing a lot more slider/curveballs and not enough fastballs," Darvish said. "They did a good job of adjusting to those pitches."

The Red Sox added three more runs in the fourth, including RBI doubles by Ellsbury and Pedroia.

Darvish worked scoreless fifth and sixth innings, but gave up another run in the seventh. Pedroia led off with a double, Darvish's seventh allowed, and scored on a single by Gonzalez.

Afterward, Darvish spoke openly of getting back to being the pitcher he was in Japan, probably the one Valentine was recalling.

"The difference between the Darvish that I am and the way I've been pitching lately is instead of trying to get the hitter in front of me out and competing, I'm unfortunately thinking of first-pitch strikes," Darvish said. "I realized, 'What am I doing?' That's something I never did in Japan. Just focus and compete and get back to that.

"In making the effort to adjust to the major leagues, I've been open and tried a lot of different things. In the end, the Rangers acquired me for the pitcher that I was in Japan. It's something I want to bring back and something to continue to do in my next outing."

Darvish wasn't the only one who felt the wrath of the Red Sox, particularly the top of the order. Michael Kirkman gave up three runs in the eighth, and retired only two of the six batters he faced.

The runs were scored, unsurprisingly, by the first three Red Sox batters.

"They were certainly swinging it tonight and it certainly wasn't anything I hadn't seen before," Washington said. "I've seen them do that to many people and tonight they did it to us. We just got beat."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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