Sports

Rangers' Darvish shows Toronto what it's missing by staying perfect

TORONTO -- Yu Darvish heard the rumors.

The Toronto Blue Jays were believed to be the favorites to win the bidding process for him last winter, but they ended up being the runner-up to the Texas Rangers. The Blue Jays got a firsthand look at what might have been Monday night at the Rogers Centre.

Darvish dazzled again for the Rangers, mixing pitches, changing speeds and working out of jams in a 4-1 victory. The win keeps the Rangers as the only team in baseball without consecutive losses this season.

Darvish gave up one run on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts over seven innings in his encore performance following his 81/3 shutout innings against the New York Yankees last Tuesday. He improved to 4-0 and has a 2.18 ERA.

How did Darvish feel pitching in the building that might have been his home park?

"Honestly, it was kind of an awkward feeling," Darvish said through a translator. "Facing the Blue Jays, it could've been my former teammates, so it was an awkward feeling pitching here."

That didn't seem to faze Darvish. Neither did runners in scoring position, as Toronto failed to capitalize on chances.

Darvish issued a four-pitch walk to Adam Lind to start the second inning and then hit Edwin Encarnacion with a 1-2 fastball. Darvish retired the next three batters, though, beginning a stretch of sitting down eight in a row.

Darvish made his lone mistake with two outs in the fourth. He left a slider in the zone and Encarnacion drilled it over the left-field fence. It was the first home run given up by Darvish in the big leagues.

"Made one mistake to Edwin," catcher Mike Napoli said. "But Yu is a confident pitcher. He's out there to get outs."

Darvish did that the rest of the way. Colby Rasmus led off with a single in the fifth, but Darvish induced a double-play grounder by the next batter, J.P. Arencibia. He worked out of a jam in the seventh, too.

Encarnacion singled and Brett Lawrie drew a one-out walk to bring the game-tying run to the plate. Darvish ended that threat by striking out Rasmus and popping up Arencibia.

The Blue Jays went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.

"Just full concentration on getting the batter out -- that's all I'm thinking in those situations," Darvish said.

Mike Adams and Joe Nathan threw perfect eighth and ninth innings to ensure Darvish another victory.

The offense staked him to a lead with single runs in the second and third on RBI doubles by Nelson Cruz and Elvis Andrus.

Leading 2-1 going into the seventh, the Rangers cushioned their lead with a unique pair going deep in consecutive at-bats.

Mitch Moreland belted an opposite-field home run off Blue Jays lefty Evan Crawford -- Moreland's second career blast off a left-hander. Then Craig Gentry had his first over-the-fence home run in the big leagues.

"It's always important to use the whole field," Moreland said. "And I played with Craig in the minors so I've seen him hit it over before, but it was fun to see him do it tonight."

But those were footnotes to Darvish, who put together a terrific first month.

"I don't expect him to go 32-0, but he'll keep us in the ballgame," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "And that's what we want."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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