August 17, 2012

Rangers' cold bats can't rescue Yu Darvish from defeat

The Japanese right-hander pitches well, but Texas bats don't cash in the effort in a 3-2 defeat.

TORONTO -- Yu Darvish is getting back to being the pitcher he wants to be and that's a good thing for the Texas Rangers.

He overcame a shaky first inning and went seven innings for the first time in almost a month Friday, and struck out at least 10 batters for the seventh time this season.

The problem, though, was that the Rangers' offense couldn't get anything going against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ or five relievers in a 3-2 loss at the Rogers Centre.

The Rangers have lost four of their last five games, and saw their lead in the American League West drop to five games after second-place Oakland defeated Cleveland 6-4.

"[Darvish] was good, had a good line," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We just didn't support him with runs. We certainly had some chances, just didn't deliver the base hits."

Toronto grabbed a 2-0 lead when Edwin Encarnacion swatted a two-run home run to left in the first. But Darvish settled down after that, retiring 13 of the next 14 batters.

And the Rangers scored a run off Happ in the fifth inning. Michael Young broke up a no-hit bid with a leadoff single, moved to second on a single by David Murphy and eventually scored on a groundout by Craig Gentry.

That was the lone run they scored against Happ, who struck out six consecutive batters in the second and third, tying a Blue Jays record.

"His fastball is deceptive and he hides it a little bit," Murphy said. "It's 90-91 mph, but it looks like it explodes out of his hand at 95-96 mph. It gets on you a little bit, has good four-seam action and it's just deceptive."

Darvish had his pitches working just as well, but couldn't work his way out of a fifth-inning jam.

With two outs, Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Gose lofted a sinking line drive to center field that a charging Gentry tried to catch. But Gentry didn't come up with the ball. It bounced off his glove and into right field.

Gose wound up with a triple and then scored on a single by Rajai Davis. If Gentry had pulled up on the ball, Washington said, Gose likely would have had a double and scored anyway on the single by Davis.

"But if you decide to leave your feet, you've got to come up with the ball," Washington said. "You don't want to give them anything extra right there. You just want to make sure you catch that ball."

Darvish wasn't too pleased with himself after that play, either, giving up an RBI single.

"That's a time where I have to back [Gentry] up and the fact that I didn't do it was very upsetting to myself," Darvish said through a translator.

Still, Darvish posted a second consecutive quality start for the first time since mid-June. He retired the final seven batters he faced, and went seven innings for the first time since July 21.

"I was able to throw with confidence tonight," Darvish said. "Even if I fell behind 2-0, I was able to make my pitches. When I needed to, I was able to get a quality strikeout."

Offensively, the Rangers weren't able to get a quality base hit when they needed it. They pulled to within 3-2 with a run in the seventh but could have scored more that inning.

Toronto gifted them a run when third baseman Omar Vizquel booted a grounder by Mike Olt, allowing Adrian Beltre to score.

That gave Ian Kinsler a chance with the bases loaded, but he grounded out to end the inning on the first pitch he saw from right-hander Brandon Lyon. Kinsler is 0 for his last 16, but said afterward that he "feels fine" at the plate.

"There were chances for a base hit to make a difference in what the score was," Washington said. "If we would've made a difference with one base hit, it would have been our victory."

Drew Davison


Twitter: @drewdavison

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