Rangers welcome revival from Darvish, Hamilton
08/12/2012 11:02 PM
03/24/2013 1:08 AM
ARLINGTON -- On this particular Sunday of August, the Texas Rangers had reason to believe that what was once lost with their pitching star from the East and their prodigious slugger has been found.
Yu Darvish allowed three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings and a more patient Josh Hamilton is swinging the bat more like his former self, evident in a hitting streak he extended to 10 games. Hamilton went 2 for 3 with a walk and a two-run home run in the Rangers' 8-3 victory over Detroit at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Hamilton hit his 32nd homer of the season and had three RBIs in the series clincher over the Tigers and in support of Darvish, who struck out eight in earning only his second victory in his past seven starts.
"He was dominating," manager Ron Washington said of Darvish, who became the fourth Rangers rookie to win 12 games in a season. "He was tension free, he was confident and he executed his pitches."
What exactly Darvish found was the source of intrigue in a postgame news conference, during which the right-hander from Japan said he used the five days since his last start to implement "advice" he had recently been given.
He declined to elaborate on the instruction, only to say one piece was offered by the Maddux brothers, pitching coach Mike and brother Greg, a special assistant with the Rangers who was in town working with the pitcher.
"They were able to see something and showed me," Darvish said through an interpreter. "I have to say these five days were very important and very constructive.
"A big step to getting back to my true self."
Whatever the change, Darvish was a different pitcher than what he has been the past five weeks, when he went 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts.
Hamilton's recent find -- or more like rediscovery -- was the strike zone.
Hamilton drove a 1-1 pitch for an opposite-field homer to left-center, driving in Elvis Andrus, who had singled, and giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the first.
On his next at-bat in the third, Hamilton got ahead in the count and singled sharply through the right side of the Tigers' infield to drive in Ian Kinsler, who had a double and two RBIs.
"I'm just making my mind up to try to focus harder on taking more pitches and getting in a better hitter's count," said Hamilton, who is hitting .357 during his streak.
A strikeout against Rick Porcello (9-8) in the fifth was his only lapse.
"He didn't throw me a strike," Hamilton said. "I asked the umpire, 'did he throw me a strike?' He said no.
"That's the difference."
Mitch Moreland, who is hitting .368 since coming off the disabled list July 30, led off the third and scored on the double by Kinsler, who took third on the throw home. Andrus, the next batter, hit a comebacker to Porcello, who appeared to have caught Kinsler off third.
But Porcello's throw to the bag was low and away, darting past third baseman Miguel Cabrera down the left-field line.
Darvish gave up all three runs in the fifth. After Alex Avila walked to lead off, Omar Infante and Miguel Cabrera had run-scoring hits that trimmed the Rangers' lead to 6-3.
The Rangers added two runs in the seventh with the help of three Tigers wild pitches.
What has never been lost is the Rangers' lead in the AL West, even after enduring a tough July that they have transformed into an 8-3 start to August.
The Rangers are now a season-high 21 games over .500, and have increased their lead to 6 1/2 games over Oakland in the American League West.
The Rangers, who are 8-1-1 in their past 10 series, are eight games ahead of the Angels.
Darvish was pulled in the seventh after two walks followed two quick outs, but Washington said, "He was throwing the ball extremely well."
"I was able to attack the zone and be aggressive," Darvish said. "Especially from the middle of the game on I was able to go after them with my fastball."
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