Mike Napoli homers in 4th straight game as Rangers rout Tigers
DETROIT -- Ever since that rocky first inning in his major league debut, Yu Darvish has been as good as advertised.
Darvish pitched two-hit ball into the seventh inning, and Mike Napoli homered for the fourth straight game, leading the Texas Rangers to a 10-3 rout of the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night for their seventh consecutive victory.
After allowing four runs in the first inning on April 9 against Seattle, Darvish has given up only three earned runs in 16 2/3 innings since.
"I think the biggest improvement is just the consistency of my command," Darvish said through a translator. "I think it's getting close to where I want to be."
The Rangers beat the Tigers in six games in last year's AL championship series, winning the clincher 15-5. This one wasn't much closer, with Texas scoring five runs in the eighth and finishing with 19 hits.
Detroit (9-4) has the American League's second-best record behind the Rangers (11-2). Texas is 6-0 on the road, equaling a team record set in 1989.
Darvish (2-0) showed impressive poise in the opener of a four-game set at Comerica Park, allowing one run over 6 1/3 innings in his toughest test since coming over from Japan.
"It's all about getting comfortable," Texas catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. "I think he's only going to get better. I'm sure he's learning something from every outing."
Adam Wilk (0-2) gave up two earned runs and 10 hits in four-plus innings for the Tigers.
Neither starting pitcher played any role in last year's ALCS. The Rangers acquired Darvish in the offseason, committing more than $107 million to bring in Japan's top pitcher.
Wilk, meanwhile, is in Detroit's rotation only because of an injury to Doug Fister. It was the 24-year-old left-hander's second career start.
This was the longest of Darvish's three starts, and the 25-year-old right-hander kept Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and the powerful Detroit lineup off balance.
"He pitched well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It looks like he has some late life on his fastball, and he's got a nice repertoire of pitches."
The Rangers led 2-1 before scoring a pair of unearned runs in the fifth. After a leadoff walk by Josh Hamilton, Collin Balester relieved Wilk and got Adrian Beltre to hit a chopper toward third. Cabrera made a smooth pickup on a short hop but threw high to second for an error.
After a walk to Michael Young loaded the bases, Nelson Cruz hit a flair toward second baseman Ramon Santiago, who tried to play it on a bounce and had the ball skip through his legs for another error and a run.
Torrealba's sacrifice fly made it 4-1.
Darvish got Fielder swinging on a looping breaking ball in the sixth. Delmon Young then walked but was thrown out trying to go from first to third on a wild pitch when Torrealba lost track of the ball momentarily.
After a walk and an error gave the Tigers two on and nobody out in the seventh, Darvish struck out Jhonny Peralta with his 121st and final pitch, a nasty one that dropped sharply toward the dirt at the last instant.
"It's hard to be perfect right away, in a short amount of time," Darvish said. "But I think I am slowly going in the right direction."
The Rangers poured it on in the eighth. Cruz and Torrealba hit RBI doubles, and Ian Kinsler drove in two more runs with a double of his own. Elvis Andrus added an RBI single to make it 10-1.
"We know that's a very good team -- our people in Arizona said they were the best team they saw this spring," Leyland said. "But they are in our league, so we have to play them."
The Rangers took a 2-0 lead on Young's RBI single in the first and Napoli's homer an inning later. It was Napoli's fifth home run of the season, all in the last four games.
That was the only extra-base hit Wilk allowed, but Texas hit nine singles off the youngster.
Texas starters are 9-0 with a 2.37 ERA. ... Santiago made up for his fifth-inning misplay when -- with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh -- he made an acrobatic, backhand stop on Hamilton's hard grounder. ... Darvish came out after 5 2/3 innings in his other two starts.
TEX Wins 3-1
- Home Plate Umpire - Mike Estabrook
- First Base Umpire - Mike Everitt
- Second Base Umpire - Paul Schrieber
- Third Base Umpire - Tim Welke
2023 American League West Standings
2023 American League Central Standings