CINCINNATI -- Yu Darvish came back from Tommy John surgery feeling bigger and stronger this season. He really started noticing it the last week when he was taking batting practice in preparation for hitting against the Reds in Interleague Play.
"I was thinking, 'Am I getting bigger and stronger?'" Darvish said. "'Maybe I could hit one or two.' I got one."
Darvish hit his first Major League home run in the fifth inning of the Rangers' 6-5 win on Wednesday night. The shot off Reds pitcher Tim Adleman came with two outs and no one on, giving Texas a 4-2 lead. Ian Desmond followed with a home run, too, the seventh time this season the Rangers have hit back-to-back home runs.
"I got stronger and I got the results," Darvish said.
It was the first home run by a Rangers pitcher since Bobby Witt on June 30, 1997, against the Dodgers. Witt's home run was the first by an American League pitcher in Interleague Play, which began that season.
Darvish grounded into a double play in his first at-bat Wednesday, and he had two hits in 13 Major League at-bats before his home run. He did not hit one in Japan either prior to coming to the Rangers in 2012. Combining his stats in Japan and the Majors, Darvish had been 7-for-49 with two doubles prior to the home run.
The exit velocity on the homer was 107 mph, according to Statcast™, as Darvish hit the 90-mph fastball to deep center field. The estimated distance was 410 feet.
"That was a big boy home run," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Straightaway center field. That ball was well struck."
The right-handed pitcher has been a left-handed hitter for most of his career. Darvish switched to right-handed this season because he wanted to protect his pitching elbow. He thought hitting righty would be easier on the elbow.
"I feel more comfortable," Darvish said about hitting right-handed.
Darvish hit the homer on an 0-2 count, and after Adleman had retired nine straight hitters.
"It's a big blow when you give up a two-out home run when you're a pitch away from getting out of it and giving your team a chance right there," Adleman said. "I followed it up with another bad pitch with two strikes and it turned into another run. I'm definitely disappointed."
"Any time you've got a guy up there with a bat, there's always that chance that something could happen," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He hit a fastball out over the plate and he hit it well. It's one of those things that you don't know that much about American League pitchers and how they swing the bat, and you certainly don't expect something like that to happen, but he obviously showed that he's capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark, and he did."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.