Rapid Reaction: Rangers 10, Tigers 3
DETROIT -- Yu Darvish had his best outing of the season, going more than six innings (6 1/3) for the first time. He allowed one run on two hits in the quality start with five walks and five strikeouts. He also got some early help from his offense as the Rangers scored one in each of the first two innings and added runs in the fifth and sixth and then broke out in the eighth. In other words, they pitched and they pounded the ball. That's been a winning formula this season and it turned into a 10-1 victory. So it's a quality start and the second win of the season for Darvish against a tough Tigers lineup. Some quick thoughts (more to come on the blog shortly):
What it means: The Rangers win the first game of the series, something they've done in all five of their series this season. They move to 11-2, the best record in the majors. They had 19 hits in the game.
Early fastballs: It was clear that Darvish was committed to establishing his fastball early. In past starts, Darvish mixed things up from the get-go, but not as much Thursday. He fed the Tigers a steady diet of 93 to 94 mph fastballs and batters had a tough time getting around on them in the first. He threw a slider to Miguel Cabrera on a 2-2 pitch and got him to ground out. Still, Darvish had his fastball command early and wasn't afraid to primarily use that pitch.
|Ron Washington on Yu Darvish, the Rangers' seven-game winning streak and producing on the road. |
Handling lefties?: Lefties were hitting 14-for-38 off Darvish coming into the game. On Thursday, the Tigers' lefties, including Brennan Boesch, Prince Fielder and Alex Avila, were 1-for-10 with four walks.
Walks: Darvish had five walks, including three to lead off innings. That's one area he'll need to improve. He has had at least four walks in each of his first three outings and 13 on the season.
Limiting damage: Darvish walked Fielder to lead off the fourth and then gave up a double down the right-field line. But he kept the inning from turning into a big one. Darvish struck out Avila, throwing a couple of nice curves. Don Kelly grounded out to second to score Fielder from third and then Jhonny Peralta hit a fly ball out to right. Darvish did a nice job of mixing pitches and getting out of what could have been a rough inning. ... Darvish pitched from the stretch even without men on base in the fifth, sixth and seventh. It's likely he was just more comfortable that way. (More on Darvish coming up).
Tiger fielding problems: The Tigers had some defensive issues in the infield Thursday, especially in the fifth. Miguel Cabrera had an error on a bad throw that might have started a double play, but instead the high throw pulled second baseman Ramon Santiago off the bag and everyone was safe. A few batters later, Santiago had a bouncer go between his legs, allowing a run to score without an out. ... The Rangers had a few hits early that weren't gloved by Fielder or Cabrera and probably would have been by the Texas fielders. ...Adrian Beltre made a terrific play in the fifth, charging a slow roller in the grass and making a quick throw to first to get the speedy Austin Jackson.
Homer streak: Mike Napoli's ridiculous week just keeps going. He had an opposite-field home run in the second inning Thursday off lefty Adam Wilk. He has homers in four straight games, the longest streak of his career. The club record is eight straight by Kevin Mench.
Terrific road trip: Michael Young continued his solid road trip. He had a two-out RBI in the first to give the Rangers the early lead and is 10-for-22 with two doubles, a homer and five RBIs on this road trip. Before the game, Young was hitting .319 with RISP and two outs, sixth-best among active players with at least 150 plate appearances.
A little too aggressive: Craig Gentry stole second base in the second as Fielder's throw to second bounced and went into center field. Gentry tried to go to third, hopping up immediately. But left fielder Kelly charged the bad throw and was able to throw Gentry out at third easily. ... Nelson Cruz was picked off by Adam Wilk as he tried to steal second in the third.
Nice bunt: Gentry made a terrific bunt down the third-base line in the fourth and beat it out easily. It was the first bunt-hit of the season for Texas. He tagged up on a fly ball to right field, getting to second just inside the tag after a good throw by Boesch. He was stranded there, but showed that he's still going to stay aggressive even after an early mistake. That's a good sign for Gentry.
Doubling the stolen base total: Texas had four stolen bases all season coming into the game. They had four Thursday, including a double steal by Cruz and Young. It was the first stolen bases for both players this season.
Breaking back: Like a tennis player who has his serve broken, the Rangers seem to break right back almost immediately when scored upon this season. They did it in the fifth. The Tigers got a run off Darvish and closed the gap to 2-1. But Texas scored two runs to extend the lead right away. They have not allowed teams to sustain much momentum at all this season.
Runs without hits: The Rangers play hard and that is the difference in scoring runs without hits. They got two in the fifth and one in the sixth without recording a hit. They hustled on the bases, made hard slides to try to break up double plays (Beltre in the sixth) and were patient enough to take walks and put men on base without getting hits in those two innings.
Tidbits: The Rangers had double-digit hits again this season and double-digit runs. Much of it because of yet another great eighth inning. Texas had five runs in the eighth. They have 19 runs in the 8th inning in the last four games. The opponent has three (and just four on the season). ... Ian Kinsler leads the league in extra-base hits with 10. His double in the eighth scored two runs. ... Texas scored 10 runs and still left 15 men on base. ... Texas was 5-for-18 with RISP.
Up next: Matt Harrison will take the mound and face Rick Porcello in the second game of the series. Please note, it's on KSKY 660 AM with the Dallas Mavericks on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. We will be chatting as well here on the blog.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.