Shin-Soo Choo thought it had been done before. So did catcher Chris Gimenez.
Both were surprised to learn that Yu Darvish had never thrown a complete game. He had flirted with perfect games and no-hitters, but had never gone the distance.
Until Wednesday night.
Darvish had another gem in his young career, delivering a complete-game shutout for the first time in a 6-0 victory over the Marlins.
“First time? I didn’t know that,” Choo said.
“I figured he had 15 or so,” Gimenez said.
Darvish has been that type of pitcher since coming to the United States and put it together once again to snap the Rangers’ four-game losing streak.
Darvish allowed only one runner to reach second base, scattering six hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts in producing the Rangers’ American League-leading 12th shutout.
“I knew I’d do it sometime, but I was glad I was able to do it,” Darvish said. “I was able to throw deep into the game and rest the bullpen guys, but I just wanted to go home.”
Darvish began the game by walking the Marlins’ leadoff man, Christian Yelich, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. No other base runner went that far the rest of the night.
Darvish walked the leadoff batter in the second, but retired the next three. He wiped away a one-out single in the third by inducing an inning-ending double play the next at-bat to complete a four-pitch inning.
That’s the inning where manager Ron Washington saw Darvish find his rhythm.
“The first couple of innings, he was trying to find it,” Washington said. “When he found it, he executed it. We certainly needed that win tonight.”
The offense gave Darvish an early cushion with a four-run third inning, highlighted by Choo’s three-run double to right. It snapped an 0-for-18 skid for Choo, who has been in a prolonged slump.
The Rangers scored single runs in the fourth and fifth, too, including another run-scoring hit by Choo in the fifth. He finished with a season-high four RBIs.
“I feel better,” said Choo, who was batting .165 over his last 32 games going into Wednesday. “It’s mostly timing, and the last three at-bats I felt good.”
Getting Choo back on track is as important as anything for the Rangers moving forward, and it was certainly a step in the right direction Wednesday. But the night belonged to Darvish.
He kept the Marlins off-balance and guessing all night.
Miami showed its desperation for trying to get something going offensively when Marcell Ozuna attempted to stretch a single into a double to start the seventh, but was thrown out by left fielder Michael Choice.
Darvish walked Justin Bour in the next at-bat, but responded by getting another double play grounder. He then struck out the side in the eighth and everyone knew it was Darvish’s game to finish.
“I could see it in his eyes,” Gimenez said. “He wanted that, and I’m glad they left him in for the ninth.”
Washington had no intentions of pulling Darvish from the game unless the shutout was gone. And it wasn’t in jeopardy too long.
Giancarlo Stanton led off the ninth with a single, but Darvish erased it once again with a double-play grounder. He closed it out by striking out Garrett Jones, a fitting end for his first complete-game shutout.
“It’s not that easy to throw shutouts at the major league level,” Washington said. “I don’t care how good of a pitcher you are, it’s not that easy. It just doesn’t happen that often in the game today.
“But there’s many more in his future. The guy can pitch.”