Yu Darvish delivers ace-like performance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Yu Darvish looked Monday like you’d expect a postseason ace to look.

“I think it is coming together,” Darvish said through his Japanese interpreter. “Today, I really felt good. I think it’s going in a good direction.”

For 5 2/3 innings in the Rangers’ 8-4 win over the Kansas City Royals, Darvish was perfect. And even when he finally wobbled a bit with two outs in the sixth, manager Ron Washington didn’t see anything to worry about.

“Today was his day,” Washington said. “He went out there and performed extremely well.”

Washington gave Darvish high marks for his cutter, sinker and breaking ball. The Royals didn’t have a baserunner until Johnny Giavotella walked on a 3-2 slider.

Darvish looked at the video afterward and agreed that it was ball four. He went so far as to compliment Giavotella for having the plate discipline to lay off the close pitch.

The Royals wound up scoring three runs in the inning, but that rally was fueled by David Lough’s bloop single and a two-run triple by Tony Abreu on a liner that eluded right fielder Nelson Cruz.

“He made a good pitch to Lough, but he got it off the end of the bat and jammed it out there,” Washington said. “Then (Abreu) got a hit. I thought Cruz was on it, but the ball took off. That was the baseball gods working right there.”

Darvish (14-9) came back with a shutdown inning in the seventh before turning things over to the bullpen after fanning six and walking only one.

By retiring the first 17 batters, Darvish did something a Ranger starter hadn’t done since 2002 when Kenny Rogers retired the first 21 Indians.

“He’s getting a feeling for what is working,” Washington said. “And then when he sees them making an adjustment, he has things in his bag that he can pull out.”

Michael Young, who gave the Rangers breathing room with a two-run homer in the ninth, has the feeling that Darvish is taking it to another level.

“His last three or four starts have been great,” Young said. “He is limiting his walks and forcing the other team to put the ball in play.”

Darvish said he’ll simply strive to maintain the consistency he has been showing lately.

“I’m very satisfied with the way I’m pitching right now,” Darvish said. “My sole goal every time out is to give my team a chance to win.”