It wasn’t like the starting pitching was bad for the Rangers during the first two weeks of the season. Texas got enough to possibly be leading the division right now if it wasn’t for the bullpen collapse. That being said, the starters did have some room for improvement. One of the names mentioned was the ace of the staff, Yu Darvish, who looked the part in his start against Kansas City.
The righty did struggle early on, giving up back-to-back-homers to Mike Moustakas and Jorge Bonifacio in the third inning. Darvish simply left his cutter over the plate, which led to a couple of free souvenirs in the outfield seats.
Mistakes were corrected afterwards and Darvish cruised through the next five innings in the Rangers’ 5-2 win, completing the four-game sweep of the Royals. Darvish went eight innings, striking out eight to even his record at 2-2 with a respectable 3.03 ERA. It was his third quality start in the last five outings.
More importantly for both Darvish and the Rangers is that he looked stronger as the game went along, still hitting the radar gun at 96 with the fastball in the eighth inning and retiring 15 of the last 16 hitters he faced. Darvish finished the day at 113 pitches, 79 for strikes.
It was a positive sign for Darvish coming off his last outing in Oakland where he appeared to be on point against the A’s before being lifted with one out in the sixth inning, an inning that saw the A’s score all the runs they needed in the 4-2 win. Pitching Coach Doug Brocail said afterwards that Darvish got away with a lot of stuff through the first five innings and that he wasn’t sticking with the game plan of pitching inside to Oakland hitters. It was a questionable call, especially since Darvish did look good in the early innings.
However, the page was turned on Sunday.
Darvish had the fastball moving, sometimes with late movement, making it that much more difficult to pick up and hit. It also helped set up his off speed pitches that disrupted the timing of those standing in the batters box. Outside of those two cutters, the pitching game plan seemed to work.
The current homestand continues for the Rangers with both the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels making their first appearance in Arlington this season. Darvish will likely open up the Angels series Friday night in what will be his second start against the Halos this season. He struck out 10 in seven innings earlier this month in Los Angeles.
Will Darvish be able to carry this momentum into his next start? That remains to be seen but Sunday was a step in the right direction.