After his offense staked him to a 2-0 lead thanks to an RBI double from Adrian Beltre and an RBI single from A.J. Pierzynski, Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish did what he has done so often this season: he settled in.
Through 7.1 innings, the 26-year-old right-hander had allowed no hits to the Houston Astros, with the only baserunner coming on a two-out walk to Houston’s Jonathan Villar in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Astros catcher Carlos Corporan changed that with one out in the bottom of the eighth when he cracked a solo home run, but Darvish was able to finish the frame without giving up any further damage and turn things over to Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth for his 35th save.
While his team didn’t manage much off Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer after the opening inning, Darvish was razor sharp, striking out a season-high 15 batters over eight innings to run his record to 12-5. In the process, he provided another example of why he is one of the frontrunners for the American League Cy Young Award.
Sometimes all it takes is a dominant starting pitcher, and Darvish was just that in the 2-1 win over the Astros on Monday in Houston, using his vast repertoire of pitches to baffle hitter after hitter. In fact, of the nine hitters in Houston’s starting lineup, he struck out all but one and recorded two or more punchouts of six batters.
And although his club was unable to add any more runs after the first, the fact that Darvish took the mound with a two-run lead was enough for Texas’ ace, and he nearly made it a historic afternoon in the Lone Star State.
It is always important for a hurler to be given an early advantage — and sometimes that’s what propels him to a spectacular outing.
Mr. Darvish is getting used to those.