ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers certainly didn't look like a team that was 23 games under .500 Monday night in their series opener against the New York Yankees.
Their ace was doing ace-like things, as Yu Darvish struck out eight and punctuated his night with a fist pump following a strikeout of Brian McCann to end the seventh inning. The offense was able to string together the big inning, with five-consecutive batters reaching in a four-run fifth in which the Rangers erased a 2-0 deficit.
And Texas actually delivered a home win in front of the biggest home crowd since May 10 (44,508), as its 4-2 victory was just the 20th win all season at Globe Life Park for the Rangers. That's the lowest home win total in baseball.
Whether Monday's win can provide any spark for a Texas team looking for any signs of life for the next two months remains to be seen. But at least it's a start.
"Every win counts at this point," catcher Chris Gimenez said. "I know that's kind of cliche to say. Every win obviously counts, but I think at this point it's by all means one game at a time. We're looking for stuff to build off of. We have played a lot better the second half. I know our record doesn't exactly show it, but we've had some tough luck. If we can just continue to keep put innings like that together, we'll be alright."
And while Darvish has been a constant, a big inning from the offense has been rare. The four-run fifth was the first inning of at least four runs for the Rangers since July 5. It all started with two outs and it was capped by a two-run single to center by J.P. Arencibia, who is batting just .152 but has nine RBI since the All-Star break.
"It was clutch for all of us," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We needed it. We've been trying to get some RBIs for a long time. Elvis (Andrus) got us a big one to get us back within one run. Beltre hits a double down the line. Rios got on the back and Arencibia delivered."
The Rangers were down 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth because Darvish couldn't find a way to get Brett Gardner out. Gardner had the game-winning homer in Darvish's last start in the rain-shortened game at New York. He homered off Darvish in the third inning Monday and then made it a 2-0 game with another homer in the fifth inning.
Darvish allowed nine hits in his seven innings, with two coming to Gardner and Derek Jeter accounting for six of them. The other seven Yankees were a combined 3 for 22 against Darvish, who reached double figures in wins for the third-consecutive year.
And while Darvish joked that he blamed Gardner's parents for making such a great hitter after the game, he was all business during it. That was never more apparent than in the seventh inning. Back-to-back singles and a stolen base put Yankees at second and third with two outs.
Darvish though escaped trouble by striking out McCann with his 108th and final pitch of the night and followed that with a rare show of emotion.
Darvish downplayed it.
"I'm just glad they didn't tie the game," said Darvish, who struck out eight and walked just one. "It was late in the game and it was a close game and it got close to a win. I just think I showed emotions because of that."