Rangers 14, Angels 3
- The last time Yu Darvish pitched, he had an awful performance, getting yanked early in the game. I wrote in the post-game thoughts that this is part of the price of Yu Darvish...while he can be transcendent in certain outings, he has these occasional performances where his command deserts him, he labors, he can't throw strikes, and he's incredibly frustrating. I thought I'd be writing something similar today after the first inning or two...staked to a 3-0 lead before he took the mound, Yu threw three straight balls to leadoff hitter Erick Aybar, battled back to a full count, then gave up a home run. Two batters later, Albert Pujols homered to cut the lead to 3-2, and then Raul Ibanez drew a walk. Yu retired the next two batters and preserved the lead, but in the second, he appeared to be in a bases loaded, one out situation with Mike Trout due up after an attempted force play at third base resulted in the runner being called safe. However, Adrian Beltre immediately asked for a replay, Wash complied, and the call ended up being overturned, making it a first and second, two out situation. Yu ended up striking out Trout, extinguishing the rally.
- Yu was at 50 pitches after two innings, which would be troubling enough, but the Rangers had ridden the pen hard over the last week. Asking the bullpen to carry a heavy load again today would be problematic, and the Rangers needed Yu to go deep into today's game. After two innings, it appeared he was giving his critics still more ammunition to say that Yu isn't efficient enough, doesn't come up big enough, to be a legit ace.
- And then, its as if Yu flipped a switch. In the third, he fanned Pujols and Ibanez, then got Howie Kendrick to fly out. And in the fourth, by now working with a 9-2 lead, Yu was cruising...he struck out two more batters in the fourth, a pair in the fifth, and retired the side in order in the sixth. At just over 100 pitches, Wash felt Yu had enough left in the tank to start the seventh, but after allowing a pair of singles to two of the first three batters in the inning, Wash pulled Yu and turned to Nick Martinez.
- Yu's final line: 6.1 IP, 7 hits (2 HRs), 1 walk, 1 hit batter (Albert Pujols, who was hit in the helmet on an 0-2 pitch), 9 Ks, and 3 runs allowed.
- Nick Martinez allowed one of the inherited runs to score, but was very good overall. Left in to finish up the game with a big lead, and in the process, save the rest of the pen from having to get up today, Martinez did hi job, going 2.2 shutout innings, walking no one, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 2. Too often in the past couple of seasons, it seems like the long man/mop up man would come in in these sorts of situations, give up a few runs, get into trouble, and Wash would end up having to get one of the guys he was trying to avoid using into the game to clean up the mess, or at least have one of them warm up. That wasn't an issue today...Martinez came in, was efficient, and shut down the Angels.
- Meanwhile, the slumbering offense came awake in a big way, and most importantly, guys who have been struggling of late had big games. Texas scored three runs in the first, two more in the second, a run in the third, and three more in the fourth to give Yu a big cushion early, then padded their stats with a five run ninth. Prince Fielder led off the scoring with a double that brought home Shin-Soo Choo, and after Alex Rios walked to load the bases, Michael Choice singled in a run. J.P. Arencibia followed that up with a blast to left field that was ohsoclose to being a grand slam, but would have to suffice for being a run scoring sacrifice fly. That 3 run outburst gave the Rangers a lead they wouldn't give up.
- Prince Fielder, whose struggles have been well chronicled, had a couple of hard hit doubles in his first two plate appearances, and later added a single and a pair of walks. The Rangers have been saying that they think Prince will come around, and this was a very promising game from him, one that you'd hope is setting the stage for more fireworks in Coors Field on Monday and Tuesday.
- Fielder's middle-of-the-order mate, Adrian Beltre, also busted out of a slump with a 3-4, 1 walk game. Meanwhile, Elvis Andrus, who normally hits second and seeks to set the table for those guys, was dropped to 9th in the order today. He responded with a 1 for 3 game with a walk, a stolen base, and a hard hit sacrifice fly. Meanwhlie, everyone's favorite whipping boy, J.P. Arencibia, followed up his near grand slam with an actual home run (his first of the season), a single, and a walk, bringing his average on the year up to .116.
- Shin-Soo Choo got on base five times today -- twice with hits, twice with walks, and once on a HBP. Michael Choice had a big 2 for 5 day that featured a three run homer in the fourth inning to turn the game into a blowout, as well as a walk. And while Dan Robertson went 0 for 6 while filling in for Elvis in the #2 spot in the order, he can blame Raul Ibanez for being hitless, as Ibanez made a leaping catch at the wall in left field to rob Robertson of what would have been his first major league extra base hit.
- One thing kind of interesting from today's game...after Yu got to 0-2 on Albert Pujols with two out in the fifth, he came up and in with a fastball that got away from him, hitting Pujols in the helmet. It appeared to get the bill, and Pujols stayed in the game and took his base. In the top of the sixth, leadoff hitter Alex Rios got buzzed with the first pitch he saw from Michael Kohn. Nothing else happened, and one would assume it is over, but I did think it was noteworthy that Pujols getting hit by Darvish was deemed to warrant a message being sent to Texas.
- Texas goes to Colorado tonight, and will play a pair of games at Coors Field on Monday and Tuesday before returning to Arlington for a pair against the Rockies at home. They had to Denver in second place in the A.L. West, two games back of Oakland, and holding onto the third best record in the American League.