In stark contrast to last Tuesday’s near-perfect game against Houston, Darvish struggled mightily with his control — particularly with his off-speed pitches — over various points of the first few innings, where he recorded all four of his walks. Of course, we can’t talk about Yu Darvish without mentioning strikeouts, where he tallied a total of 6 (5 coming in the first 3 innings), which was his elixir to the pickles he put himself in.
With that noted, the blister he developed in Houston has been reported as the likely cause to his lack of control. I’m not making excuses for the guy, because there’s nothing that wrong with throwing 5 innings and allowing 3 runs — hell it was even enough to be considered a “win” according to the paradigm of what constitutes wins and losses. Because if you watched him pitch, there was clearly something going awry, which is why it was so necessary that his offense bail him out.
Which you know, since Darvish got the win, that they did.
Ian Kinsler was the real star of the game, getting on base a perfect four times in four plate appearances — including the decisive hit of the game — an opposite-field 3-run homer to extend the Ranger lead to 7-3. Kinsler finished the night 3-3 with a walk, a home run and two singles, driving in 4 of the 7 total Rangers’ runs.
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the first, Lance Berkman hit a 2-run jack into the Texas bullpen in right-center to even things up in the early going. Two batters later, David Murphy launched a solo shot of his own to put the Rangers ahead 3-2, giving them a lead they ultimately would not relinquish.
Aside the troika of Kinsler, Berkman and Murphy — whom accounted for all of Texas’s run output — the real gut-check performance came from the backend of the bullpen.
Leading 4-3 in the 6th, Robbie Ross threw a scoreless, albeit dicey (2 hits allowed) inning.
In the 7th, now up 7-3, Tanner Scheppers quickly retired the side, though he allowed a hit. He went out again in the 8th and was even more dominant, striking out the first two hitters before allowing a harmless grounder back to the mound. He was sharp for the third straight time out, and more importantly, efficient with his strike-to-ball ratio.
Fittingly, after a two-out Albert Pujols single in the 9th, Josh Hamilton stepped to the plate to a raucous, omnipresent roar of boos from the Arlington faithful that Hamilton himself made even stronger by trolling them through the media.
I think Josh Hamilton desperately wanted to stay with the Rangers, but Jon Daniels simply didn’t believe he was worth anywhere near the amount of money he desired;
So it’s funny, and with perhaps a shade of cosmic irony trickled in, that Hamilton grounded out to Ian Kinsler’s 2nd base area, with Elvis Andrus being the one to record the assist (because of the shift).
It makes me smile because unlike Hamilton, Kinsler and Andrus did receive under-market extensions, and they signed. They wanted to play here, to win here, and the Rangers wanted them, too.