Darvish not his best, but neither are bats

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A.J. Pierzynski made a wise point after being peppered with several questions about Yu Darvish's so-called off night in the Texas Rangers' 1-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Monday.

Basically it was this: What do you want from him?

Which is a fair question.

Darvish wasn't at his best Tuesday night. Even Pierzynski said so. Darvish walked three batters and hit another. He gave up a home run for the fifth straight game, this one to A's center fielder Yoenis Cespedes that ended up getting him beat (actually the Rangers' offense lost this game, but that's another story).

"He was OK," Pierzynski said of Darvish. "He wasn't as sharp as he's been."

And then there's the pitch count. Darvish threw 102 pitches in six innings after 130 in his previous start against Detroit. You know, the one where he threw 15 pitches in the eighth inning of a 10-4 game the Rangers were winning and it turned into water cooler talk the next morning.

And of course it makes the baseball mind wonder. He pitched one more inning than you thought he would against Detroit. And one less inning than you thought he would against the second-place A's.

And you try to add that all up and you finally say … I give up.

Here's the deal: Darvish could have thrown 150 pitches Monday night and it would have been futile. The Rangers' offense produced three singles and didn't get a baserunner to second. The one runner who headed that way, Jurickson Profar in the fifth inning, was caught stealing.

Pulling Darvish after six innings ended up being one of the best decisions Rangers manager Ron Washington has made all season, especially knowing what we know after the fact -- that Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Neal Cotts were going to keep it a 1-0 game going to the bottom of the ninth.

In all seriousness, Washington said he felt like the rhythm of the game caught up to Darvish. Except for the third inning when Cespedes hit his home run, and the fourth inning when Darvish had his only perfect frame, he put at least two runners on base.

"It seems like I threw a lot of pitches," Darvish said. "I was able to grind and not give up many runs."

Darvish worked hard to get double plays in the fifth and sixth innings, and also bounced back to strike out Cespedes by throwing him five straight sliders for the final out of the fifth inning, stranding two runners.

"He worked hard," Washington said. "The lineup over there worked him pretty good. I wasn't running him back out there. He took [us] as far as he could take us."

The A's worked him over pretty good, Washington said. And they scored only one run on a cutter to Cespedes that stayed over the plate with two outs in the third inning.

"He made one mistake and [Cespedes] hit for a home run," Pierzynski said.

Darvish was surprised Cespedes' shot left the ballpark.

"I didn't think it was a home run," Darvish said. "Being in this stadium, you never know. It is what it is."

Darvish was in good spirits after the game. He has had the best run support in baseball this season -- nine runs per start -- but received none Monday.

Was he shocked the Rangers' bats finally went quiet on him?

"I've been propelled with run support," Darvish said. "There will be games like this."

Did he feel less himself after 130 pitches in Thursday's duel against Detroit's Justin Verlander?

"I was my usual self," Darvish said. "I wasn't affected by the last outing."

And finally, the seventh inning. Did he want to go back out?

You know the answer, which Darvish spiced up with a little humor.

"I really begged Wash," Darvish said. "I wanted to keep pitching. But you writers need to talk so much about pitch counts that it hurt me. So that was the end of my game."