Texas Rangers

Darvish works seven scoreless, fans 10 in Rangers win

Take a snapshot of that Yu Darvish, the one who shut down the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon.

That’s the Darvish who can help lead the Texas Rangers to another American League West title and help them advance in the postseason. That’s the Darvish who finished second in Cy Young voting in 2013 and is one of the favorites to win it in 2017.

That’s how good Darvish can be every fifth day. What made it so good wasn’t necessarily the 10 strikeouts or the desire to pitch a seventh shutout inning when the game was in hand and his tank was running low.

Darvish pitched at Angel Stadium rather than just trying to overwhelm hitters with his stuff. He did that, of course, but only after making an in-game adjustment to make his slider its nasty self and using his fastball to keep himself in most at-bats.

That’s how good he was as the Rangers came within an out of a shutout before settling for an 8-3 victory that gave them their second consecutive series win after a season-opening sweep by the Cleveland Indians.

“It was a big day for Yu Darvish,” manager Jeff Banister said. “This is exactly what Yu needs to do when he goes out. He needs to pound the strike zone, because he’s got swing-and-miss stuff. He’s got to get ahead. He got ahead early today.

“He was able to understand that his slider is quality even when it is in the strike zone. He was able to get some in the strike zone and then go out of the strike zone. More importantly, it was the ability to go in with the fastball to buy some real estate across the plate.”

Darvish only had to pitch out of a few tight spots, including in the sixth when he induced an inning-ending double play with runners at first and third. He punched his glove and showed some emotion for stranding the runner at third.

He was at 96 pitches after the sixth but worked a 1-2-3 seventh on only seven pitches before giving way to Mike Hauschild, who allowed a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth to spoil the bid for a shutout.

“He wanted that next inning,” Banister said.

Darvish (1-1) had plenty of help from an offense that has been one of the game’s best early on. The Rangers hit two more homers, including a leadoff shot by Carlos Gomez, and added runs in the sixth inning after shooting out to a 5-0 lead after three.

Nomar Mazara hit a two-run homer in the third, and Robinson Chirinos drove in three runs with a two-out ground-rule double in the second and a two-run single in the sixth.

Though only 4-5, the Rangers have had a chance to win every game this season. That’s encouraging at a time when the bullpen has disappointed and the defense has been sloppy at times.

“Our offense has shown up,” Banister said. “We’ve challenged ourselves on some nights, but I like that our club continues to compete and continues to grind away. I believe our offense, we’ve proved we can manufacture some runs. If we can take some walks and put together some at-bats that drive in runs without hitting the ball out of the ballpark, that’s going to prove very beneficial to us going forward.”

Darvish scattered five singles and two walks and was able to make pitches when needed or was able to rally after falling behind and turn hitter’s counts into his advantage.

But his slider wasn’t effective early as he used his fastball to register three of his first four strikeouts. A conversation with pitching coach Doug Brocail convinced Darvish to throw the slider in the strike zone because it would still get swings and misses.

Brocail was proven right, and Darvish made the pitch even more efficient by throwing his fastball inside for strikes.

“I had a sharp, good slider and it’s got a big break on it,” Darvish said. “It was just trying to aim it differently than early in the game. Early in the game I was able to throw sinkers in, and they were swing at those pitches. That opened up that outside.”

The Rangers packed their belongings afterward and headed to Seattle for a three-game weekend series at always-chilly Safeco Field. They did so with their starting rotation and lineup rolling.

No start, though, has been as good as Darvish’s third of the season.

That’s how good Darvish can be.

Texas

122

003

000

8

11

0

Los Angeles

000

000

003

3

7

3

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Gomez cf

5

1

1

1

0

1

.139

Choo dh

5

1

2

1

0

1

.258

Mazara rf

5

1

1

2

0

2

.368

Napoli 1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.171

Rua 1b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.154

Odor 2b

5

0

1

0

0

0

.250

Andrus ss

4

2

2

0

0

0

.353

Gallo 3b

3

1

1

0

1

1

.207

Chirinos c

4

2

2

3

0

0

.400

Profar lf

2

0

1

1

2

1

.143

Totals 37

8

11

8

3

7

 

Los Angeles AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Escobar 3b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.366

Calhoun rf

3

0

1

0

0

2

.316

Revere cf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.214

Trout cf

2

0

2

0

1

0

.333

Cron 1b

1

0

0

0

0

0

.304

Pujols dh

4

1

1

0

0

1

.200

Simmons ss

3

0

1

0

0

0

.343

Pennington ss

0

0

0

0

1

0

.333

Maybin lf-rf

3

1

0

0

1

1

.231

Marte 1b-lf

4

0

0

0

0

2

.250

Espinosa 2b

4

1

2

3

0

1

.229

Perez c

4

0

0

0

0

2

.100

Totals 33

3

7

3

3

11

 

E—Simmons (2), Maybin (1), Perez (2). LOB—Texas 6, Los Angeles 6. 2B—Andrus (4), Chirinos (1). HR—Gomez (3), off Nolasco; Mazara (3), off Nolasco; Espinosa (3), off Hauschild. RBIs—Gomez (4), Choo (2), Mazara 2 (11), Chirinos 3 (6), Profar (2), Espinosa 3 (12). SB—Andrus (1), Gallo (2), Trout (1), Maybin (1). CS—Andrus (1). Runners left in scoring position—Texas 2 (Gomez, Napoli); Los Angeles 5 (Calhoun, Pujols, Simmons 2, Perez). RISP—Texas 4 for 11; Los Angeles 1 for 10. Runners moved up—Pujols, Escobar. GIDP—Choo, Maybin. DP—Texas 1 (Odor, Andrus, Napoli); Los Angeles 1 (Espinosa, Pennington, Cron).

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Darvish W, 1-1

7

5

0

0

2

10

103

2.33

Hauschild

2

2

3

3

1

1

33

12.00

Los Angeles

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Nolasco L, 0-2

5

8

5

5

0

7

97

5.40

Wright

4

3

3

3

3

0

65

6.75

WP—Darvish, Nolasco, Wright. Umpires—Home, Paul Emmel; First, Brian O’Nora; Second, Scott Barry; Third, Stu Scheurwater. T—3:14. A—30,255 (43,250).

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