By the time Yu Darvish had finished the seventh inning, he was limping down the dugout steps and causing Texas Rangers fans watching at home to panic.
By the time a sprawled-out Leonys Martin started walking under his own power in the ninth inning, he was barely limping and feeling only mild pain in his right ankle.
Those two nail-biting moments seemed to be more of a concern late Saturday night than the fact that the Chicago White Sox pieced together three ninth-inning singles to beat the Rangers 3-2 and snap Texas’ franchise-record-tying nine-game road winning streak.
“I think it’s pretty bad,” Darvish said, chuckling, when asked if he expects to make his next start. “You can tell by what I said, right?”
The reports afterward from the medical staff were only slightly more serious than Darvish, who had cramps in both calves and expects to make his next start Friday.
X-rays on Martin’s ankle were negative, and the Rangers don’t expect him to miss more than a game or two.
Tanner Scheppers is said to be fine, too, even though he had his second straight dicey appearance.
“He went out tonight and was pounding the strike zone,” manager Ron Washington said. “They earned it. My assessment is the same: The next time the eighth inning rolls around, I’m giving him the ball.”
Josh Phegley collected the game-winner against Scheppers, a two-out liner to left field, to send the White Sox to a walk-off victory that shaved the Rangers’ lead over Oakland in the American League West to 21/2 games.
Scheppers, who had faltered badly Wednesday against Houston, got Paul Konerko to pop to shallow left-center field to start the inning, and left fielder David Murphy made the catch as he and Martin converged on the ball.
Both players called for the ball, but Martin banged into Murphy and tumbled to the ground after rolling his ankle. He initially needed help coming off the field but thought he might be able to stay in the game after trying to put more weight on the ankle.
Washington, though, said that Martin felt some pain, and he was removed.
“It was hit right in the middle of us,” said Murphy, who was playing deep to prevent a leadoff double. “If he calls the ball he has priority, but it was such a late-developing play that by the time I heard him, the ball was almost in my glove.
“I felt like at that point I just had to stay with it. It’s one of those things that happen between the crowd noise and the fact that the ball was hit right between us.”
Scheppers (5-2) allowed a single to Avisail Garcia but got Conor Gillaspie on a pop-up for the second out. Dayan Viciedo, though, singled to put runners at the corners. Phegley ripped the third pitch from Scheppers to end the game.
The Rangers had several chances early on but couldn’t get going against Hector Santiago. They had at least two base runners in each of the first three innings but went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.
Alex Rios finally broke through against Santiago in the sixth after A.J. Pierzynski had reached on a two-out bloop single to right field. Rios then crushed a two-run homer, his first homer since joining the Rangers, for a 2-0 lead.
But the 415-foot shot was answered in the bottom half as Adam Dunn also swatted a two-run homer with two outs. That was the worst blemish against Darvish, who allowed two runs in seven innings and struck out 11.
“I think Dunn is the only one who could hit that fastball,” Darvish said. “It wasn’t that bad of a pitch.”
He did his best pitching in the seventh after a leadoff walk and a single put runners at the corners with no outs. He disposed of Viciedo and pinch hitter Jeff Keppinger with strikeouts on pitches out of the zone, and then stayed in the game against the left-handed-hitting Alejandro De Aza even though lefty Neal Cotts was ready in the bullpen.
Darvish was visited by the training staff after slipping during his third pitch to De Aza and then stumbling as he went to cover home on a ball in the dirt. Darvish remained in the game, getting De Aza to pop to shortstop, but didn’t return for the eighth after 113 pitches.
“I was more concerned about my legs than anything else,” said Darvish, who recorded his 10th game of at least 10 strikeouts this season and upped his baseball-best strikeout total to 225. “I caused that havoc and wanted to finish that inning. Though both my legs were cramped up, I wanted to finish that inning so badly.”
And, he assured, he will make his next start. The Rangers don’t expect Martin to be out long. They aren’t even too worried about Scheppers.