The Rangers had a chance to complete the sweep against the Mariners at home on Father’s Day. It was also Darvish Day, so you had to have liked the chances of breaking out the brooms with Yu Darvish on the mound.
Turns out it wasn’t a safe bet. The Mariners wasted no time roughing up Darvish in the first inning, scoring four of their seven runs in the 7-3 win over the Rangers. Darvish allowed a total of five runs in five innings of work while striking out six.
However, that first inning seemed to follow a trend with some of his starts as the righty has a tendency of being struck by that one bad inning. In two earlier starts against the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, Darvish was cruising before being hit hard in the fifth inning. In all three of these starts, the home run ball would be the biggest blow.
On Sunday, Darvish fell behind 3-1 in the count to Danny Valencia and then threw a fastball right in the hitting zone. Valencia didn’t miss, sending it 434 feet the opposite direction for the two-run homer. Darvish would settle down but just like in those other starts, the damage was done.
Now the term of the “ace” comes into question with Darvish, who has one of the best pitching arsenals of any starter in baseball. The argument would be that the ace closes the door and completes the sweep, which didn’t happen this weekend at the Globe. It’s not that he’s struggling on the mound; he’s just struggling at times with overcoming one bad inning.
Darvish is now at 6-5 with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in 15 starts this season. He’s also pitching in a contract year, with another argument over how the Rangers could possibly put him on the trade market if they fall out of the playoff race.
However, there’s no indication that will happen, at least not at the moment. The Rangers are right in the middle of the A.L. Wild Card race. Plus, Texas wants to re-sign Darvish in order to keep him in Arlington and there’s no sign that he really wants to leave the Lone Star State. The added bonus is that his presence could help the Rangers in their pursuit of Japanese baseball sensation Shohei Otani, who is a big fan of Darvish.
There are still plenty of more starts left for Darvish to prove he’s the big money pitcher. With the impending return of lefty Cole Hamels from the disabled list, the one-two pitching combo could soon be on track and ready to go as the Rangers fight for a third straight trip to the postseason.
*The Rangers start a four-game series in Arlington on Monday with the Blue Jays. It will be Toronto’s first trip to The Globe since last year’s ALDS. Austin Bibens-Dirx gets the start on the mound for the Rangers. The righty is 2-0 with a 3.28 ERA since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock. Toronto will counter with Marco Estrada, who’s 4-5 with a 4.54 ERA. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.