Texas Rangers romp again in Darvish's best start yet

DETROIT -- The pitches continue to pile up for right-hander Yu Darvish, who logged 121 of them Thursday night in his third major-league start.

He didn't care for the five walks he issued or that he left the Texas Rangers in a bit of a jam when he exited after 6 1/3 innings at Comerica Park.

But it was plain to see that the Japanese superstar/major-league rookie made significant strides against Detroit.

Darvish produced more swings and misses than in his first two starts, and Tigers hitters found solid contact hard to come by.

Tigers pitchers, on the other hand, saw firsthand how hot the Rangers are at the plate.

Another double-digit offensive output and Darvish's best start to date lifted the Rangers to their seventh straight win, 10-3, to open a four-game series between the teams who played for the American League pennant last year.

Afterward, Darvish felt like he had shown improvement from his starts against Seattle and Minnesota. He established his four-seam fastball early and commanded his breaking pitches as the game continued.

"The biggest improvement is the consistency of my command. That is getting close to where I want to be," Darvish said. "It's hard to be perfect right away, but I think I'm slowly going in the right direction."

Mike Napoli homered for the fourth straight game, and every Rangers player had a hit as they collected 19 against four Tigers pitchers. Michael Young returned to the lineup and went 3 for 5, including an RBI single in the first.

The Rangers had 26 base runners and scored at least 10 runs for the second time in their past three games.

"We're putting the ball in play and finding holes," manager Ron Washington said. "I thought we did a good job tonight and used the opposite field very well."

Darvish's final line wasn't entirely clean. He had the five walks and struck out five. And though he never trailed, he allowed at least one base runner in the first four innings and in six of seven overall.

The Tigers pushed across a run in the fourth after opening with a walk and a double, and trailed only 2-1 before the Rangers scored twice in the fourth and another in the fifth.

That's when Darvish (2-0) ditched the full wind-up and produced his best inning, a perfect frame on nine pitches. He stuck with the stretch in a scoreless sixth, though 20 pitches in the inning pushed his count to 102.

Darvish started the seventh but walked Alex Avila. An error on Ian Kinsler on a potential double-play grounder put runners at first and second, and Darvish went to a full count before striking out Jhonny Peralta on his 121st and final pitch.

The pitch count wasn't an issue for Darvish, thought it prompted Washington to summon Alexi Ogando from the bullpen to end the threat.

"I'm used to throwing that. That to me is my normal workload," Darvish said. "I could even throw another game right now."

The Rangers then poured it on in the eighth, scoring five times. They have scored 18 runs in the eighth inning in their past four games. Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba and Kinsler had RBI doubles in the inning.

Darvish, though, pitched well enough Thursday to not need all those runs.

"It's all about getting comfortable," said Torrealba, who caught Darvish for the first time since spring training. "It's only his third start, and he's still getting his feel and his confidence out there. He's only going to get better."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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