Texas Rangers free agent import Yu Darvish is a decent 14-9 with a 4.14 ERA this season and has an impressive 196 strikeouts versus 85 walks while holding opponents to a .223 batting average.
Against the Mariners, however, he is 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA, a .294 batting average against and 14 strikeouts and 14 walks.
So, what the heck is going on? Clearly, he walks a lot of guys, especially those wearing a Seattle uniform.
In any event, he can’t afford to mess around now because the Rangers are still holding on to just a three-game lead over Oakland in the AL West. The Rangers certainly have something to play for, unlike a couple of years ago at this time when the Mariners went in for a September series and Texas decided to rest most regulars for the playoffs.
The Rangers have been a strange team all season.They have pretty much led from start to finish in the AL West and even built up huge leads over other clubs throughout the course of the season. But it’s never really seemed all that secure — ever since the M’s pummeled the Rangers 21-8 in Arlington back in late May.
Part of the problem with building a huge early lead, as the Yankees have discovered, is that there is a risk some complacency might set in. Sure, the Yanks have had their injuries in the second-half, but they also have more depth than most teams to overcome those and have just flat out been beat on many nights. It’s only lately the Yankees have seemed to recognize the threat to their division lead and are now winning with greater frequency.
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As for the Rangers, they’ve had a good season overall and are en route to 95 wins, but you still don’t get that sure a feeling about them. Maybe it’s because two-time defending division champs always seem poised to be knocked down. Winning three in a row is tough, whether we’re talking division, or league.
Let’s see what Darvish does tonight. If he lays another egg against Seattle, he’ll have a nest full. And fans in Texas will be wondering even more whether their team can hold on to a division that seemed a runaway just a few weeks back.
As for Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, he also gets plagued by command issues at times. He’s been a mixed bag against good teams this year. The Bear got beat by the home run ball and the surging A’s his last time out. Also got roughed up by New York a few weeks back. But he’s pretty much owned the Angels in two recent starts.
So, this will be informative. There is also plenty of pressure on Iwakuma tonight, since this game is being televised live back in his native Japan, where Darvish and The Bear is almost as big as B.J. and the Bear.