HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers throws in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 12, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Yu Darvish was not himself his last time out on Wednesday in Oakland.
There was frustration, bickering and a lack of control that resulted in six walks and just four strikeouts as he was battered by the A's while getting into verbal altercations (or whatever you want to call them) with catcher A.J. Pierzynski and pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Before that, it had been since July 6 that Darvish had given up more than three runs and not gotten at least through six innings.
The Rangers will need Darvish to be the ace they know he is on Monday night when they open up a six-game homestand against the NL Central second-place team Pittsburgh, who is 1.5 games behind the Cardinals after being swept by the Redbirds over the weekend.
The Pirates are the type of team that give Darvish trouble with their patient plate approach, spearheaded by former Rangers hitting coach and current Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle. Darvish can't afford to dance around hitters and nibble on the corners with his off-speed stuff. He needs to throw strikes and attack hitters while relying on a better-than-average defense backing him.
As much as the Rangers need Darvish to excel on Monday, he needs it for himself, as well. He's clearly had some mental hiccups recently, as evidenced by his demeanor on Wednesday afternoon in Oakland.