By Mark Miller
After losing four of their first five games last week and producing nary much for ace starter Yu Darvish in his first five outings, the Texas Rangers tried to right everything in just one game Sunday.
The team had a collective 14 hits, including five for extra bases, to make sure Darvish finally won his second game of the year 14-3. Though it only gave Texas a 2-4 record for the week including being swept by the Oakland Athletics at home, they only trailed the A’s by two games. And their 17-14 record left them at No. 3 in the American League behind Detroit’s 17-9 and Oakland’s 19-12.
“It’s better to have run support than not having run support but my approach doesn’t change,” Darvish told mlb.com. “After the second inning I had about 50 pitches so my mindset was to get as deep into the game as possible and I was glad I was able to do it.”
Darvish went 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on nine hits with a walk and nine strikeouts. Among the hitters backing him up were Michael Choice with a three-run home run, J.C. Arencibia with two hits, including his first home run of 2014 and a sacrifice fly, and Prince Fielder with three hits, two of which were run-scoring doubles.
That helped make up in part for losing badly to Oakland (4-0, 9-3, and 12-1) after sweeping the A’s the previous week in California. And it helped erase the memory of scoring an average of just 1.45 runs for Darvish in his previous starts.
“That was a big one that Michael Choice got us,” manager Ron Washington said. “They were still in the ballgame and that gave us some breathing room. It was the whole team today and Darvish did a great job.”
Colby Lewis continued to shine Friday night, halting a four-game losing streak in a 5-2 victory. Homers by Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios proved crucial with Choo’s the team’s first long blast in eight days. The Angels came back to win 5-3 on Saturday night before Darvish and the offense took over Sunday.
Rockies, Red Sox on Tap
The Rangers return to interleague play this week with road-and-home two-game series with the Colorado Rockies followed by a three-game home set with the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
Colorado enters the week with a 19-14 record that includes seven wins in their previous 10 games. Like the Rangers, they have the third-best record in the National League behind Milwaukee’s 21-11 and San Francisco’s 20-11.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki leads the Rockies with a .400 average including seven home runs and 25 runs batted in. Right-fielder and Dallas native Charlie Blackmon is at .359, 6, 22, and first baseman Justin Morneau at .336, 7, 25. Jordan Lyles has been the most consistent starting pitcher with a 3-0 record and 2.70 earned run average. Veteran LaTroy Hawkins is perfect in nine save opportunities.
Boston has struggled so far in 2014 with a 15-17 record before this week. The Red Sox did help the Rangers though by taking two of three against Oakland at Fenway Park.
Former Rangers A.J. Pierzynski (.291, 3, 15) and Mike Napoli (.290, 5, 17) and designated hitter David Ortiz (6 HR, 17 RBI) have been among Boston’s best hitters. John Lackey leads the Red Sox in wins with four while former Texas pitcher Koji Uehara has saves in all seven chances.
5/5 @Rockies 7:40 p.m.
5/6 @Rockies 7:40 p.m.
5/7 vs Rockies 7:05 p.m.
5/8 vs Rockies 7:05 p.m.
5/9 vs Red Sox 7:05 p.m.
5/10 vs Red Sox 7:05 p.m.
5/11 vs Red Sox 2:05 p.m.