Rangers offense rescues Darvish for debut win

Rangers offense rescues Darvish for debut win

Published Apr. 9, 2012 8:41 p.m. ET

ARLINGTON, Texas — Incredible.

It could have summed up the atmosphere surrounding Yu Darvish's first start
with the Texas Rangers Monday night. It could also have described Darvish's
ability to pitch into the sixth inning against Seattle after allowing four runs
and throwing 42 pitches in the first inning.

But instead it was a word Darvish used in his postgame news conference to
describe his team's offense.

It was that offense that bailed out a shaky Darvish and allowed him to go 5-2/3 innings and collect
a victory in his first start — an 11-5 pounding of the Mariners.

"Just like you saw today, incredible," Darvish said through a
translator of a Texas offense that smacked four home runs and equaled its run
total from the first three games.

It was certainly a needed effort on a night when all the attention of the
42,003 at Rangers Ballpark was squarely focused on the newest pitcher on the

Darvish came to the mound to a huge ovation and blaring rap music. He was then
immediately rapped around by the Mariners and almost didn't survive the first

Darvish’s line that inning: four runs, up four hits, three walks and one visit
from pitching coach Mike Maddux, ultimately sending the Texas bullpen into a
quick crisis mode.

It wasn't exactly the kind of start anyone was expecting, including Darvish.

"Today when I stepped on the mound for the first time I was very
calm," Darvish said. “I felt very calm and mentally I was very calm, but
my body felt like I wanted to go and go and go. I think at the beginning of the
game my mind and my body kind of wasn't on the same page."

Luckily for Darvish, the Texas offense was.

The Rangers gave Darvish exactly what he needed in the bottom of the first,
extending Hector Noesi for 32 pitches and scoring two runs to get back into the

Darvish, in turn, settled down. He allowed a run in the second inning but in
the third began a stretch of retiring 10 consecutive batters. Even though he
was at 98 pitches after five innings, he got a chance to go out for the sixth
inning. He retired the first two batters before allowing a walk and a single to
end his night at 110 pitches.

As manager Ron Washington pulled him, Darvish was greeted by a standing ovation
and chants of "Yu.” Darvish was surprised by the crowd reaction because he
didn't feel like he pitched that well. He also didn't tip his cap to the fans
because he didn't know about that custom.

Darvish ended the night by allowing five runs on eight hits. He walked four and
struck out five.

The final line wasn't exactly what Darvish wanted, but the Rangers didn't seem
to mind.

"I stayed with him the whole time," Washington said. "It was a
matter of him controlling his energy. He was over-amped. It wasn't that he was
scared or nervous. He ended up being a warrior."

Then again, it's a lot easier to fight on the mound when you have the Texas
offense behind you.

Darvish was off the hook for a loss by the time the third inning ended, Nelson
Cruz turning a 5-2 deficit into a tie game with a three-run laser off Noesi to

That homer got the party started for the Rangers. Mitch Moreland's two-run
homer in the fourth gave Texas a 7-5 lead and three batters later Josh Hamilton
hit his second home run of at least 400 feet to make it an 8-5 game.

Ian Kinsler, who confirmed after the game that he had agreed to terms on a new
contract with the Rangers, broke the game open in the eighth inning with a
three-run homer.

The Texas hitters were just trying to do what they could to help Darvish get
through the night.

"Our goal is to do what it takes to win the game and tonight that meant
score runs," Kinsler said. "We knew that right away. It changes your
mentality and changes your mindset as an offense as a whole. We were able to
turn that up and put runs up for [Darvish]. In the first inning to get those
two runs to answer and put us close was huge. He felt like he was back in the
game. He got a breather."

While Darvish said his issues early were with his balance, the Rangers didn't
see it that way. They liked what they saw out of a player they in which they invested
more than $100 million during the offseason.

"We were preaching to him that we've got a good lineup and just us
there," catcher Mike Napoli said. "And he did that. He battled. He
showed a lot as a major league pitcher to keep us in the game."