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 struggled again on Tuesday night against the lowly Houston Astros, who he'd dominated this season. But once again, the Rangers came out with a victory as Darvish earned a no-decision after getting the lead and then immediately surrendering it for the third time since the all-star break by allowing a home run.
Darvish struggled with his command and couldn't get out of the sixth inning, and to Rangers manager Ron Washington's credit, he didn't sit around and try to let Darvish figure it out. He immediately pulled him in favor of Neal Cotts.
At this point in the season, with every game a must-win, Washington can't let his starters stay in the game if they're struggling, and that includes Darvish.
He's now failed to get through six innings in three of his five starts this month, and it could come down to his next scheduled start — in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Angels — to determine whether the Rangers get into the wild card picture or not.
We're not saying Darvish is bad, at all. He leads the world in strikeouts and just eclipsed 200 innings pitched for the first time in his career. We are saying the Rangers believe he is an ace (he is) and now he needs to pitch like it. Aces don't fail to execute shutdown innings at the rate Darvish does, especially not via the long ball.