Not-so-dominant Yu Darvish grinds out win

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Be honest, here. When the Rangers took a 4-0 lead against the Cleveland Indians in the second inning on Friday, you thought the game was over, right?

That's what Yu Darvish makes us envision.

The Rangers’ offense, normally not as supportive of the team’s ace as it should be, scored a whopping four runs in the second inning. Darvish had allowed four runs in his previous four starts combined. A four-run lead should have been plenty.

But by the fourth, it was all gone. Darvish gave up a three-run homer to Lonnie Chisenhall in the third, the first homer with someone on base for Darvish since last September. He gave up a solo shot in the fourth and looked disgusted with himself.

Darvish didn't have the command where he wanted it. The Indians belted fastballs for hits. They waited Darvish out at times and drew three walks. He gave up a season-high nine hits. And yet Darvish got his sixth victory of the season.


His offense bailed him out with a go-ahead run in the seventh on Michael Choice's homer, and Darvish used every pitch he had in his toolbox, as pitching coach Mike Maddux likes to call it.

"I think the strike zone was a little bit smaller today, so I had to be creative and I started throwing a cut-fastball and slider and throwing the hitters off," Darvish said.

It worked. Barely.

Darvish seemed to be teetering at times throughout the night. But when he had to make some pitches late, he did. The Indians got two quick hits off him to start the sixth in a tie game but couldn't score:

Darvish got Mike Aviles to strike out, thanks in part to some nice framing by catcher Chris Gimenez. He also struck out Michael Bourn with a fastball low in the strike zone and induced a ground ball from Asdrubal Cabrera to end the inning.

Darvish showed some emotion after the final out of the sixth, smacking his glove with his hand. He knew it was a critical out.

Despite not having anywhere close to his best stuff, Darvish got through seven innings and earned a victory.

Isn't that was aces are supposed to do?