Darvish returns to form as Rangers shut out Twins

06/28/2014 8:25 PM

06/28/2014 11:53 PM

ARLINGTON In a season that has seen the Texas Rangers go from contenders to developers, Yu Darvish remains one of the few attractions left.

He is among the top pitchers in the game and didn’t disappoint in his latest outing Saturday afternoon. He overpowered a reeling Twins team with his cutter and posted another double-digit strikeout performance over eight shutout innings in the Rangers’ 5-0 victory.

The Rangers were also backed by an offense that executed and manufactured runs in timely situations to win consecutive games for the first time in two weeks.

“It’s a great win for us today,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said.

Especially seeing Darvish get back to his top form, as he retired 20 of the final 22 batters he faced.

Darvish struggled with mechanical issues in his previous two starts and allowed four earned runs in each of them. His delivery still wasn’t perfect, but he made enough adjustments to go deep again.

“I thought it was good with [results] like this,” Darvish said. “I can’t say I was disappointed. I think I did pretty well.”

Darvish found himself in only one jam all day. He had runners at first and second with one out in the second inning, but got Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Florimon each to fly out. That began a streak of him retiring 10 straight.

Darvish didn’t have a baserunner reach again until he issued a two-out walk to Florimon in the fifth, but he ended that threat quickly by striking out Sam Fuld. He allowed only one more baserunner on the day, a two-out single to Chris Parmelee in the seventh.

Darvish struck out 10, his fifth time this season with at least 10 strikeouts and 25th in his career. He now has the second-most starts with at least 10 strikeouts in franchise history, trailing only Nolan Ryan’s 34.

Darvish also became baseball’s first starter with five starts with eight or more scoreless innings this season. The only other pitcher with more than three is the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright (four).

“I thought he was Yu Darvish again,” manager Ron Washington said. “He found his off-speed stuff. He used his cutter very well, spotted his fastball around the zone. He was in command today.”

Left-hander Neal Cotts pitched a perfect ninth to close it out for the team’s American League-leading 14th shutout.

Twins starter Phil Hughes kept his team within striking distance most of the day. The Rangers scored single runs in the second and third before breaking it open in the eighth.

Catcher Chris Gimenez came through with a two-out RBI double in the second. In the third, Rougned Odor led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a groundout by Shin-Soo Choo and raced home on a high chopper by Andrus.

Then in the eighth, the Rangers put the game out of reach with three runs. Pinch hitter Luis Sardinas executed what Washington called a “perfect” suicide squeeze bunt to score Andrus, and Leonys Martin followed with a two-out, two-run double to right.

“I stuck to the basics and did what we practice all the time,” Sardinas said. “I put the ball down on the ground and executed there.”

It all added up to a much-needed win for the Rangers, who had lost eight straight going into this series. Washington couldn’t have been more pleased with the all-around game.

“That’s what we’ve got to do,” Washington said. “We played solid defense. We needed another well-pitched game, and Yu gave it to us and the offense did what they had to do to put runs on the board. We got another win.”

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