After coming within one out of a perfect game against Houston in the second game of this season (and having that ruined by Marwin Gonzalez's single up the middle), Yu Darvish took a no-hitter into the eighth inning only to have it (and the shutout bid) broken up by Carlos Corporan's solo home run. Still, Darvish earned the 2-1 win, ensuring that the two runs the Rangers scored in the first inning held up.
Some quick thoughts:
What it means: Darvish's near no-hitter helped the Rangers stay one game up on the A's in the AL West after Oakland used a four-run ninth to beat the Blue Jays. Darvish ended up allowing the lone run on that lone hit in eight innings of work. ... It also means that the last Rangers no-hitter still belongs to Kenny Rogers, who threw a perfect game on July 28, 1994 in Arlington.
Memorable marks: The Rangers are 13-1 in their past 14 games. It's the best 14-game stretch for the team since June, 2010, the year the team went to its first World Series. ... Monday was the Rangers' sixth-straight win over a left-handed starter.
Career-high Ks: As usual with Darvish, when his stuff is on, he can produce plenty of whiffs. He had a total of 15 on Monday, a career-high. Before Monday, Darvish had managed 14 strikeouts four times. ... It was his ninth double-digit strikeout game of the season, the most in the big leagues. It was also the 17th time in his career that he had at least 10 strikeouts, third-most in Rangers history (already) behind Nolan Ryan (34) and Bobby Witt (24). ... The 17 games with double-digit strikeouts also leads the majors since the start of 2012 (Max Scherzer and Chris Sale are next with nine).
More than 200: Darvish’s strikeout of Chris Carter in the fifth inning was his 200th of 2013, reaching that mark in his 23rd start of the season. The only other Texas pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts in 23 or fewer starts was Nolan Ryan (211 Ks in 23 starts) in 1989.
Slippery slider: Darvish had his best pitch -- his slider -- working well on Monday. Of his 15 strikeouts, 12 of them ended on the slider and eight of those were swinging strikes. He struck out Robbie Grossman and Brandon Barnes three times each and got Brett Wallace, Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez twice.
Just one walk: It was a walk to Jonathan Villar that kept Darvish from heading into the eighth inning with a perfect game still intact. That free pass was issued in the sixth with two outs. Darvish got ahead 0-2, but threw four straight balls to lose Villar. The 1-2 pitch to Villar sure looked like a strike, but didn't go Darvish's way.
Ejection: A.J. Pierzynski was not happy with home plate umpire Ron Kulpa's strike zone during Villar's walk and was ejected for arguing about it. Rangers manager Ron Washington ran out of the dugout, but couldn't get to Kulpa before he sent Pierzynski to the showers. Geovany Soto came in to take his place. Both catchers have caught Darvish enough that the change didn't impact Darvish.
Darvish loves Houston: In three starts in Houston this season, Darvish has had a perfect game broken up with two outs in the ninth and a no-hitter ruined with one out in the eighth. He is 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA in three starts in Houston this season with 37 strikeouts (in 23 2/3 innings) and four walks.
Record trip: The 9-1 mark for the Rangers on this 10-game journey to Oakland, Anaheim and Houston is the best road trip in club history. It is better than two different 8-1 trips in 2010 and 2012.
First-inning runs: The Rangers scored two runs in the top of the first on three consecutive base hits. With one out, Ian Kinsler had a double into the left field corner. He scored on Adrian Beltre's double to left center field. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a bloop single to center field for a 2-0 lead. The Rangers have scored 34 runs in the first inning this season.
Nathan saves it: That's 19 saves in his past 20 appearances for Nathan and 35 of 37 overall (the second-best percentage in the AL).
On deck: The Rangers open a two-game interleague home series against the Milwaukee Brewers. The pitching matchups are: Tuesday, right-hander Alexi Ogando (5-3, 3.28 ERA) versus right-hander Marco Estrada (4-4, 4.96); Wednesday, right-hander Matt Garza (2-1, 3.38) versus right-hander Tyler Thornburg (1-0, 1.72). Both games will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest and on radio on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540 AM.