Darvish good, offense bad as Pirates blank Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas starter Yu Darvish’s sterling night on the mound came to an end after seven innings because of cramping in his right leg.

Unfortunately for Darvish, the Texas offense seemed cramped the entire game as rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole held the Rangers to three hits over seven innings in a 1-0 Pittsburgh victory.

Texas is now two games behind the Oakland Athletics in the American League West after losing their third 1-0 decision of the season when Darvish is pitching.

The only run of the game came on a two-out double by Pedro Alvarez with two outs in the seventh. That proved to be too much for a Texas team that’s given Darvish a total of 10 runs of support in his last six starts.

“This is what it is – it’s baseball,” Darvish said after his most efficient outing of the season. “Sometimes the offense can’t score runs. Other days you might score 20 runs. Sometimes you might even throw a no-hitter and not win. This is what it is. The hitters did their best and today I did my best.”

Darvish didn’t put any blame on his offense, but the lack of support in his recent starts is startling. Darvish, who hasn’t won since Aug. 12, has received just 2.93 runs per nine innings in his last 19 starts. He’s 5-6 in those starts with three of the losses coming in 1-0 decisions.

The problem for Darvish and the Rangers Monday is that they were matched up with someone as equally dominant as Darvish in Pittsburgh rookie Gerrit Cole. Like Darvish, Cole pitched seven strong innings but he didn’t allow any runs.

Texas had just three singles off Cole and the one inning the Rangers had a chance against him, they failed to capitalize.

Texas had runners on second and third in the sixth inning with two outs but Cole got a slumping Adrian Beltre to ground out to short. Beltre has just two hits in his last 23 at-bats.

That was it for the Rangers’ opportunities as they went 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position and managed just four singles.

“It’s tough,” said shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was stranded at third in the sixth after stealing a base of bases. “Every time you’ve got your best pitcher on the mound you want to score but every time he’s in the mound the other team’s best is on the mound too. The other guy’s really tough and when he’s on his day too, it’s always going to be hard to score. Not too many base hits and just one run the whole game. It was a tough game.”

Darvish (12-8) needed just 81 pitches in his seven innings, striking out six and walking just one. The Pirates didn’t get a runner in scoring position against him until the seventh. That’s when former Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd doubled to left with two outs. Alvarez followed by lining a 2-2 splitter to right-center.

That was enough offense for the Pirates. Darvish left the game after that inning because his right leg cramped up between innings. He had a similar issue during an Aug. 24 start in Chicago but he said Monday night’s cramping wasn’t nearly as severe.

He said he expects to be ready for his Saturday start against Oakland.

He just has to hope the Rangers bats show up too.