By Will Martin
Not since May 16th had Yu Darvish been a winning pitcher. A lot of that through no fault of his own.
There were a couple of incidents with game tying runs allowed either by himself or by the bullpen in games at Arizona, at New York, and a home game with the Royals which immediately come to mind.
Run support in some of the other losses were the culprit for the man who has made watching the Rangers more inviting since 2012.
On this day Yu Darvish would pitch a rubber game against a team with the best record in the Major Leagues since the start of the 2012 season.
Matt Latos in the last nine months of play has been a stellar 21-5. 7-1 in 2013 with a 3.03 ERA. Yu on the other hand was 7-3 with a 2.95 ERA.
Also a weird sight in the month of June at Rangers Ballpark. A cool front that made the winds blow from the north and only a 90 degree read. 15 degrees less than 48 hours ago.
As you can imagine two behemoths traded goose eggs until the bottom of the 5th. Texas would strike first with 2 runs on a squeeze play by Elvis Andrus. Engel Beltre led the inning off with a single.
Engel was moved to third when Leonys Martin plated a double and improved his current hitting streak to 14 games. Elvis Andrus being one of the better bunters on the team laid down a beauty that slowly rolled toward Pitcher Matt Latos.
In one fell swoop the throw would strike Beltre in the temple. The ball rolled toward the backstop as Leonys Martin advanced to score and the Rangers were ahead 2-0.
Nelson Cruz would improve the Rangers lead to 3-0 in the 7th after a single and stolen base by Leonys Martin, a David Murphy single and Cruz missile to right center.
Not since May 16th had Yu Darvish earned the W. He almost didn’t on this day. Both Yu and Matt Latos went exactly six and two thirds innings. Yu with eight strikeouts and four walks on 117 pitches (77 for strikes). Latos with nine whiffs and only two walks on 106 pitches (71 for strikes).
A 3-0 Ranger lead fell to 3-2 in the eighth when Tanner Scheppers came on in relief and just didn’t have it, allowing hits to Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips with a walk to Zack Cozart for good measure.
When the count went to 2-0 to Jay Bruce, Ron Washington yanked Scheppers and went with Neal Cotts. Cotts induced sacrifice flies to Bruce and pinch hitter Chris Heisey. Wash used five different relievers to insure Yu Darvish got that elusive eighth win. Jason Frasor and Joe Nathan put out the fire with the final four outs, a 3-2 Rangers win, a win for Yu Darvish (8-3) and a 26th save for Nathan.
It might be possible that there was an element of divine intervention involved with this win. The game went exactly three hours and sixteen minutes (3:16). It was also the first time in 11 days that Texas went with the Red after an 8-2 run wearing the Blue.
Texas takes two of three and bounced back nicely after an 11 inning loss Saturday 6-4. Off day last Monday before the Seattle Mariners came to town for three starting Tuesday followed by a three game set with the Houston Astros. The Texas Two Step finally makes its way to Arlington after six games in Houston March 31st and Mothers Day weekend.
With 2013 now officially halfway over July should figure to bode well for the Rangers as they start getting their injured back. Word is that Colby Lewis is on a rehab assignment and Joakim Soria looks ready to go before the All-Star Break in New York’s Citifield July 16th.
Two hits apiece for Elvis Andrus, Engel Beltre, and Loenys Martin while the #8 and #9 batters accounted for all three Ranger runs. In defense of the Reds they are very patient at the plate, unafraid of working pitch counts when in the 0-2 or 1-2 hole.
As it stands currently if things continue on this path the Texas Rangers of 2013 are on course for a 94 win season. Neck and neck with the Oakland Athletics. How much longer before the Angels enter this fray? I foresee this happening before August rolls around.
Congratulations to Yu Darvish on another shutout performance. The fourth time I have been privy to this since September of 2012.