In a pitcher’s duel at Tropicana Field, it was left to the offense to capitalize on whatever opportunities may present themselves. With two outs in the top of the eight, Elvis Andrus did just that with a two-run home run over the left-field fence. The Ranger’s would go on to defeat the Rays, 3-0.
The Rangers had been struggling to get hits, but with a pitcher like Yu Darvish you don’t have to bring your best bats. With two-outs in the top of the eighth, Shin-Soo Choo hit a chopper off the top of Tampa Bay pitcher Joel Peralta’s glove then hustled to first for the single. Andrus, who averages four homers a year, came up to bat and cleared the fence.
“It was perfect” said Andrus. “I think I love this stadium. Since last year I’ve felt really comfortable, but you know i was looking for that pitch the whole game and I was trying to stay short with my swing and I was glad to give us the win and put us back on top.”
Andrus gave the team the lead, but it was a spectacular performance through seven shutout innings from starting pitcher Yu Darvish that kept them in the game. In the first inning, Darvish struck out Wil Myers for his 500th career strikeout and became the fastest pitcher to ever accomplish this feat by doing so in 401.2 innings pitched.
The next inning, Darvish struck out three Tampa Bay batters with 9 consecutive strikes. 65 of the 89 pitches he threw were strikes. Four times the Rays had runners in scoring position, but not once did they score. Not bad for a guy making his first start of the season after coming off the DL and not facing a batter in three weeks.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said after the game, “Well as usual you have a team over there that fights forever, they put themselves in the position to score some runs but Yu made the pitches he had to make. I mean he was in control of the game. He was using his pitches, he was throwing strikes, and that’s what he does. He said he wasn’t going to have any rust and I think today showed he didn’t.”
Alexi Ogando, Neal Cotts and Joakim Soria all came in to relieve Darvish, and did their jobs in making sure no Rays’ batters made it around the bases.
In the top of the 9th, Rays’ third-baseman had a throwing error that allowed Adrian Beltre to get on base. Donnie Murphy out ran a throw to first that scored Beltre and gave the Rangers an extra security run.
Soria would go on to close the game and earn his first save since September of 2011.
With a win today, the Rangers now have a 3-3 record going in to the last leg of their road trip in Boston. Darvish was the first of four Rangers’ pitchers to return to the field after being placed on the DL, and it what we saw today was accurate, the team could be in good shape once Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis all return.
“Every game is important” said Andrus. “Every time you play away it’s always going to be tough, but I know the team is going to get better. We got Yu today and it was good to have him back, he was nasty as usual. But I mean, everyone is feeling better and that’s all we need. As soon as we get rolling it’ll be a lot of fun.”
Tanner Scheppers takes the mound tomorrow for game one as the Rangers look to keep rolling in Boston. Game time is set for 6:10 CT.