BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Ranger starting pitcher Yu Darvish won his second game last night, as Texas beat Detroit 10-3 in Comerica Park. Darvish continued his upward trend with his best outing of his three major league starts. He pitched into the seventh inning, the first of the three starts in which he completed six, and allowed just a lone run on two hits. It qualified Darvish for a quality start, his first of the season. (As a staff, Texas has 10 quality starts in 13 games.) Darvish’s record moved to 2-0, and the Rangers’ record moved to 11-2, the best in baseball. Texas has now won the first six games on this three-city road trip and seven games in a row, the longest active streak in the majors.
Darvish still threw too many pitches, too many of which were balls. The official count was 51 balls and 70 strikes (58%). The 121 pitch total is the most any Ranger pitcher has thrown in a game this season. Darvish’s ERA fell to 3.57, which is the highest among the five Ranger starters, and is exceeded on the Rangers’ staff by rookie Robbie Ross and closer Joe Nathan. However, he allowed just two hits to perhaps the most powerful batting order in baseball not domiciled in Arlington. He is next scheduled to pitch Tuesday in Arlington against the Yankees.
Thursday’s game was closer than the final score indicates. Texas held a 2-1 lead after four innings, then added two in the fifth and another in the sixth. They really broke it open though with five runs in the eighth inning, with the damage coming against reliever Daniel Schlereth, the son of ESPN football analyst Mark Schlereth. Robbie Ross subsequently allowed a pair of runs to the Tigers in the bottom of the eighth for the final 10-3 tally. Texas has now scored in double digits three times in 13 games. Two of those were games Darvish pitched; and the Rangers have scored 27 runs in the three games Darvish has started, winning all three.
The news for the Rangers got better later in the evening. In Anaheim, Oakland beat the Angels and former Ranger pitcher C. J. Wilson 4-2. Oakland and Seattle are now tied for second in the West with 7-7 records placing them 4.5 games out of first. Los Angeles has lost all four series this season, are in last place in the West with a 4-9 record, and trail by a full seven games in the standings.
The strength of the Angels was supposed to be their starting rotation. They led the A. L. last season in ERA, but this year their staff ERA is 4.70 after 13 games, 10th in the A. L. and 24th in the majors. A year ago, the Angels offense was anemic as they scored almost 200 fewer runs than the Rangers. They committed a quarter of a BILLION dollars to pep up that offense last winter when they signed Albert Pujols. His batting average is .296, but he hasn’t hit a home run and has driven in just four. The Angels’ team batting average is .258, and they have scored 53 runs, 4 per game.
The Texas offense leads the major leagues with a .306 batting average and has scored 79 runs (6.1 per game), the most in baseball. The staff ERA is 2.38, best in the American League and trails just the Phillies (2.29) among all 30 big league teams. The 33 runs allowed (2.5 per game) are the fewest allowed in the majors. It’s a combination that is prompting many national writers such as ESPN’s Buster Olney to proclaim the Rangers the best team in baseball. It’s only 13 games, 8% of the season, but it’s been a fun 13 games; and this team is giving every indication that the fun is just beginning.