Tag Archives: Yu Darvish

Rangers And Blue Jays Face Off In Arlington For The First Time Since 2016 ALDS

Seattle Mariners v Texas Rangers

Texas has been hot of late, and it’s not just the weather.

The Rangers are playing the kind of ball that can get you back in the postseason picture. They’ve won seven of their last 10 games and have reached the .500 mark for the first time since the end of last month.

But a familiar foe steps into town for a big four-game series, the Toronto Blue Jays. The last time these two met at the Globe, the Jays took the first two games of the 2016 ALDS, roughing up both Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish in the process. The Jays would go on and sweep the Rangers out of the playoffs. It was the second straight year the Rangers season ended on the field in Toronto.

Now you have two teams that have struggled out of the gate while trying to keep those playoff dreams alive. Health with the pitching staff has been a problem for both Texas and Toronto. Cole Hamels will make another rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Wednesday but is expected to return soon from his oblique injury. Andrew Cashner and A.J. Griffin are on the disabled list with oblique injuries themselves. Yu Darvish has been solid but continues to struggle with control at times, giving up the long ball more often than usual. The Rangers did finally get Tyson Ross on the mound, who looked good in Friday’s 10-4 win over the Mariners.

On the Jays side, the starting rotation has been Marcus Stroman and whoever else is available after that. Stroman has been sensational for Toronto this season with a 7-3 record and a 3.15 ERA. Francisco Liriano and J.A. Happ appear to finally be at full strength. Both Liriano and Stroman are scheduled to pitch in this series.

The offense seems to be finally clicking for a Rangers lineup that many expected to see on an everyday basis when spring training began, only to be offset with various injuries and slumps. Adrian Beltre is back and approaching the magical 3000-hit club. He’s expected to make history later this summer. Mike Napoli has returned from the disabled list and showing more power at the plate. Rougned Odor seems to be over his early season slump and making solid contact. Joey Gallo continues to be “must-watch TV” every time he steps in the box with his ability to hit moonshots.

While the Rangers are playing good ball, the Blue Jays do present a formidable task. Texas lost two of three in Toronto earlier this season and has dropped six of nine to the Jays since May of last season. Including the postseason, the Rangers have lost two straight and five of last seven against the Jays in Arlington.

The A.L. West division may be out of reach with the Houston Astros maintaining an 11-game lead over the Rangers in the standings. However, the Rangers are just a game out of the wild card with the Jays a game behind them.

There’s still plenty to play for during the hot summer nights in June.

One Bad Inning Dooms Darvish In Loss To Mariners

Seattle Mariners v Texas Rangers

Courtesy: Getty Images

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.