Yu Darvish has gone through many steps in his first Major League season. He came out of the blocks as an inconsistent pitcher that couldn’t throw many strikes, then he trusted his stuff and became a dominant pitcher. Then, he started seeing teams again and they were able to wait him out and he was up but mostly down. Yesterday against the Seattle Mariners, a team that has given him fits all season, he was as good as we’ve seen him this season. Seven innings, two hits, nine strikeouts and only one run and two walks. That was Darvish at his best and the pitcher that can become an ace at the Major League level.
Darvish’s ERA is now down to 4.02 and in a season of rookies taking the spotlight, Darvish is lurking in the shadows and has the best case to affect the playoffs out of any of the rookies.
The game was blown open in the eighth inning where the Rangers put hits together to score seven runs and turn a 2-1 lead into a 9-1 lead. They were helped by a Seattle error, but were able to get the insurance runs and give a rest to the key players in their bullpen by extending the lead and also to several position players. Brandon Snyder, Craig Gentry and Jurickson Profar came in to play defense and basically turned into Ron Washington‘s victory cigar. It also proved that Washington does know their names as he probably had to write them on the lineup card.
The lead in the AL West is still 3, but the good news for the Rangers is that the less games there are to play, the better their situation becomes. The Athletics are still lingering and currently have a two game lead on the AL East contenders in Baltimore and New York for the first Wild Card spot. I think it has gotten to the point where the Athletics are not going away and may make their return to the postseason, undoubtedly pulled together for their teammate Brandon McCarthy who has been improving after one of the scariest injuries on a baseball field in a while.
The problem that the Athletics are causing for the Rangers is that by being so close (and the Angels not even that far behind) is that Washington needs to play his regulars to win games. There are no scenarios to rest players and play the Gentry’s, Snyder’s and Profar’s (and, when healthy Olt’s) all at once. By being in a pennant run, Washington has to lean on his starters and how that will affect them come playoff time will be a factor should everything stay the way it is now.
However, a rested and healthy Mike Napoli will definitely help some things for the Rangers. They have leaned on Geovany Soto since August because Luis Martinez is not able to do the job. With Napoli back, Soto can rest meaning that he can become an option with Napoli at first and the Rangers hope that the rest and health means Napoli can return to his 2010 form and be a key player in this offense.