He definitely wasn't at his best before another sellout crowd. But his offense was able to cure whatever was ailing Darvish, and he is the first pitcher in the American League with seven wins this season.
He also picked up his 100th career victory between Japan and the big leagues despite going just five innings and 93 pitches. He allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three. If nothing else, it was an improvement on his last start in Seattle on Monday, when he allowed five runs over just four innings in a 6-1 loss.
"Temperature-wise I didn't feel it was extremely hot," Darvish said. "I was able to pitch without the heat affecting me. My body physically hasn't been feeling well since Seattle. That's been nagging me."
The Blue Jays certainly noticed a difference from the pitcher who beat them on April 30 in Toronto. In that game, Darvish held the Blue Jays to one run on four hits in seven innings while striking out nine.
"I didn't think his velocity was the same," Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista said. "I didn't think his pitches were moving as good, but somehow he still managed to make a good pitch when he needed to and he got out of some jams. We managed to put up three runs, but it could have been a lot worse for him, and I think he got away with one today."
Catcher Mike Napoli could see that Darvish was struggling from the moment he stepped on the mound. Darvish opened the afternoon by walking leadoff hitter Yunel Escobar on four pitches. Darvish also fell behind 2-0 to Colby Rasmus before getting him to pop out.
"It was one of those rough starts," Napoli said. "He battled through it and got through five. I don't know what happened. Something was wrong. He battled through five and the offense gave us a good cushion so he could work through some things."
Manager Ron Washington said it was a stiff back. Washington said that's why the Rangers pulled Darvish after the fifth inning while sitting on a 9-3 lead.
"He came up with a stiff back and that could be the reason for being erratic," Washington said. "But he stood out there and gave us five. If he didn't have that stiff back he could have gone out there for six or seven. But once he said he had that stiff back, we weren't going to take any chances."
Darvish said it was more of an intestinal problem that has been nagging him lately.
"It was not like I was pitching in pain every pitch," Darvish said. "Sometimes when you have an intestinal disturbance, it tends to affect muscles around it. I feel very comfortable. I should be able to treat this and be ready for my next start."
Darvish was able to hold the Blue Jays scoreless through the first two innings. He gave up a two-out double to Brett Lawrie in the second, but left fielder David Murphy then made a terrific over-the-shoulder catch at the wall to run down David Cooper's long drive. That kept the Blue Jays from taking an early lead.
"Just a reaction, I guess," Murphy said. "A ball like that you just realize it's going to go over your head. You take off and you do the best you can with it. That ball had some side spin so it was moving sideways as much as it was moving over my head, but it's something you just stay with."
The Rangers then came up with seven in the bottom of the second. Blue Jays starter Kyle Drabek, after a leadoff single by Michael Young, walked three, including one to force in a run, while giving up two-run doubles to Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus and a two-run home run to Adrian Beltre. That gave Darvish some cushion on a day when he really needed it.
"Fortunately, we got some runs early and gave Yu a little bit of breathing room," Young said.
"He threw well enough," Kinsler said. "I don't think he's happy with his performance. That's not the way he wants to throw the ball every time out, but he gave us the innings we needed and we were able to get the win."
Darvish did give up single runs in the third, fourth and fifth, but that was harmless, particularly because Kinsler hit a two-run home run in the third. The Rangers added three more in the seventh as Napoli added a two-run home run. It was Kinsler's first home run since April 24 and Napoli's first since April 25.
"Physically, I did feel better than in Seattle and luck was on my side today," Darvish said. "Murphy made that play at the wall and there were some other plays. The team won, that's the bottom line."