Game 129: Darvish Dominates Rays


The Texas Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 in a pitching duel to take the first two games of the series and improve to a season-high 25 games over .500.

Yu Darvish (12-9, 4.51 ERA) took the mound for Texas after sitting out his last start with a tight quad. He took on Rays pitcher James Shields (12-7, 4.01 ERA).

It was the first start against the Rays for Darvish and he had a stellar outing. Yu’s final line was sparkling and showed real progress for the right-hander: 7 IP, 6 hits, 2 walks, 10 k’s.

Shields took the loss, but kept Texas out of rhythm with his devastating change up. He also went seven innings, allowing three hits, walking two and striking out eight batters.

Tonights game was just another reason why Texas is so good. Derek Holland got roughed up last night, but the Rangers offense responded against one of the best pitchers in the AL in David Price. Tonight, Shields was pitching well, but one mistake did him in and the Rays offense never got going. Hard-luck loser, indeed.

Pitching Out Of Jams: Darvish showed a veteran-like mentality in the second inning when he gave up a leadoff walk to Ben Zobrist and a double by Luke Scott to put runners on second and third with none out. He struck out Carlos Pena on a 3-2 fastball, got Ryan Roberts to fly softly to center field and induced a ground ball from Jose Lobaton to get out of the inning unscathed. Darvish may walk a lot of hitters, but he can certainly pitch out of jams. A lot of pitchers would be lucky to only give up a run there, so you have to give Yu credit.

Yu Swing, Yu Miss: Darvish notched his major league-leading 8th game with double-digit strikeouts, striking out 10 through seven shutout innings. It helped that the Rays had never faced the rookie from Japan before and therefore didn’t know what kind of movement his pitches had. They learned that answer quickly: Nasty movement. Darvish struck out at least a batter every inning and the combination of his slider and curveball had Tampa Bay swinging away in vain all night.

Clutch Kinsler: Ian Kinsler led off the fourth inning with his 16th homer of the year. Kinsler deposited the full count pitch from Shields into the left field seats to give the Rangers the only run of the game for either team. It was the fifth long ball of the month for Kinsler, the most he has had since April.

Moreland Saves Shutout: In the top of the eighth inning, the Rays had a runner on second with two outs. Zobrist hit a sharp grounder toward Mitch Moreland who backhanded it on a slide and then ran to the bag to record the final out himself. It saved the tying run from scoring and was just an all-around great play by the Rangers first baseman.

Golden Sombrero For Pena: Pena struck out on all four of his at-bats in the game, three times against Darvish and then the last one on a pitch low and away from closer Joe Nathan in the ninth. Pena’s averaged dropped to .190 which is a low for any regular player in the American League.

First Time Success, Rookie Record: With the win, Darvish improved to 9-3 against teams whom he was facing for the first time and he also collected his 13th win of the season, which is a Rangers rookie record.

Texas will try to sweep Tampa Bay tomorrow to finish off this ten-game homestand.

Matt Harrison (15-7, 3.04 ERA) will take on Alex Cobb ( 8-8, 4.32 ERA).

The game will be played at 6:05 p.m. to relieve some of the traffic issues that will be caused by the Dallas Cowboys playing their final preseason game across the street in Cowboys Stadium.