G23: Darvish good again, Rangers win 4-1

Due to an odd tech quirk, I was able to see a couple of innings of this game, and from what I saw, Yu Darvish is getting better.   I saw just up to the point where he gave up the home run to Encarnacion.  Before that, I was ACTUALLY thinking no hitter.  That didn’t happen, but we did get a stellar performance from Yu Darvish.   He went seven innings, giving up just four hits, and walking two.  Struck out NINE, and of the four hits, three were singles, and one was the solo home run.  As the old saying goes, if you’re gonna give up home runs, make ’em solo shots.  His curveball was popping, he got some of the Blue Jays to swing and miss like I’d swing and miss at a slider or some other pitch.   Darvish improved to 4-0, and has now won four of the five starts he’s made as a Ranger.  Although, I have to confess, I didn’t think he’d win that first game I was at.  Not after the first inning.  That inning seems like somewhat of a distant memory now, which is odd, given he’s only thrown a total of 33 innings as a major league pitcher.  How fickle our impressions can be, eh?

Offensively, the Rangers jumped out first to a 1-0 lead on a couple of traded doubles by Adrian Beltre & Nelson Cruz.  Cruz’s was a line shot to right field, scoring Beltre.  Adrian definitely seemed to be hampered by his hamstring issue of about a week ago.  He was running slow, and definitely seemed to be running gingerly.   Still, he went 3-5, so you can’t fault to too much.  I just worry about him hurting himself, and being out a long time.   The Rangers second run came on an Elvis Andrus double, scoring Ian Kinsler, who had walked.   Up 2-0.

The remaining three runs of the game for both sides came on solo home runs.  The Jays got their aforementioned solo shot, but then in the seventh, Mitch Moreland got a solo home run (his third) off of Toronto reliever Evan Crawford, who had JUST replaced Kyle Drabek.  Craig Gentry got his first career “over the wall” home run right after that.  If I had picked two guys to go back to back with home runs, Moreland & Gentry would NOT have been it.  Still, one will always take home runs from wherever they come from in the lineup.

That closed out the scoring, although Beltre & Young got hits after that, they didn’t amount to anything.

Yu Darvish looked quite good, and while he came out after just 97 pitches in seven innings, Mike Adams & Joe Nathan both pitched perfect innings of relief behind him.  Nathan to get his sixth save in the month of April.  Not exactly knock your socks off high, but a solid number.

Elvis Andrus seems to have picked up his offense, he was 2-5 this game, and his average is up to .264 – a decent if not awesome number for him.

The calendar rolls over into May after a very successful first month of the season for the Rangers.  The team went 17-6, a winning percentage of .739.  That leads all of Major League Baseball, and the now hated Anaheim Angels are 8-5, NINE GAMES OUT after just the first month.   Both the A’s & Mariners are tied at 6.5 games back.   We have by far the widest lead in the standings over a second place team than any other division.   If you look out at the other divisions, strange things are going on in the standings..

AL East: Tampa Bay over Baltimore by 1 Game, Yankees by 1.5, Jays by 3, and Red Sox by 3.5
AL Central: Indians over White Sox & Tigers by 1, Royals by 5.5, & Twins by 6
AL West: Rangers over A’s & Mariners by 6.5, Angels by 9
NL East:  NATIONALS over Braves by 0.5, Mets by 1.5, Phillies by 3.5, & Marlins by 6
NL Central: Cardinals over Reds by 3, Brewers by 3.5, Pirates by 4, Astros by 5.5, & Cubs by 6.5
NL West: Dodgers over Giants by 3.5, D’Backs by 4, Rockies by 4, & Padres by 9.5

At the moment, I think the only two teams that people would have expected to have been in first place are last year’s World Series teams.   It’s an interesting season so far.  Yu Darvish is on a pace to win 24 games.  :)