Darvish returns to form in Rangers win

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish reacts after recording the last out of the eight inning against the Minnesota Twins.

Kevin Jairaj/Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas – Yu Darvish wasn’t able to get comfortable with his delivery Saturday against Minnesota.

The Twins were never able to get comfortable against Darvish either.

Darvish, who was coming off consecutive sub-par outings, pitched eight scoreless innings and paved the way for a 5-0 shutout of the Twins. The win gave Texas its first winning streak since June 11-14 and its American League high 14th shutout this season.

Darvish struck out 10, walked just one and allowed just four singles in his 110-pitch outing. He was able to throw two kinds of cut fastballs and kept the Twins guessing wrong the entire game.

For a Texas team in need of strong starting pitching, Saturday’s outing by Darvish (8-4) was a welcome sight.

"I thought he was Yu Darvish again," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He found his off-speed stuff. He used his cutter very well tonight. He spotted his fastball very well. He was in command."

Minnesota threatened against Darvish just once, that coming in the second. He surrendered two singles and also threw a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with two outs. But Darvish got Pedro Florimon to fly out to center to end Minnesota’s lone scoring chance against him.

"I thought it was good with something like this," Darvish said of his return to the win column after getting tagged for eight earned runs in 11 innings over his last two starts. "I can’t say I’m disappointed."

Texas fans shouldn’t be disappointed with the kind of offense they say Saturday either. Their makeshift lineup was able to make things happen. The Rangers scored single runs in the second and third innings of Phil Hughes and then added three in the eighth.

The way Texas scored in the eighth is the way it’s going to have to with its offensive limitations. Elvis Andrus executed a hit-and-run to move a runner around and pinch-hitter Luis Sardinas brought home a run with a squeeze bunt. Leonys Martin also came up with a huge two-run double that allowed the Rangers to stay away from Joakim Soria in the ninth inning in favor of Neal Cotts.

Texas had 11 hits off Hughes and was able to keep the pressure on the Twins throughout the game despite going just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

"It was a pretty good day for sure," said Andrus, who had an RBI grounder in the third and scored in the eighth. "After that terrific job by Darvish after the first two innings he completely shut it down. We’re going to have to keep running the same way."

Minnesota had just one hit off Darvish in his final six innings of work, a two-out single by Chris Parmalee in the seventh inning. The 10-strikeout game moved him into second place all-time for the Rangers with 25 of them and reassured his teammates that he was back in his old form.

"It was very, very nice," said catcher Chris Gimenez, who first second-inning RBI double proved to be the game winner. "I was looking forward to it. I know he’s been kind of working on some stuff in the bullpen, trying to kind of get his mechanics figured out again. For him to be able to throw that cutter again today, he has to be able to stay behind the ball. He proved to me absolutely he made the adjustment today."