Darvish not resembling dominant self of late

Darvish not resembling dominant self of late

Darvish not resembling dominant self of late
BOSTON -- Yu Darvish is trying to become the pitcher he once was in Japan. On Monday night, he allowed six runs in 6 2/3 innings, and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who managed against Darvish in Japan, said this is not the same pitcher who was so dominating across the other side of the Pacific.

"I never saw him look like that," Valentine said after the Red Sox's 9-2 victory over the Rangers. "He wasn't very good, actually. His stuff was flat, I thought. He's working on stuff, I guess. I don't know."

Darvish is working on many things, and the search for the old Darvish continues after Monday's outing gave him four losses in his past six starts. Since the beginning of July, Darvish is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA while walking 24 batters in 38 1/3 innings, and his record is now 11-8 with a 4.57 ERA.

"For anybody, when things don't go right, you naturally feel frustrated," Darvish said. "A lot of players go through it. It's important for me not to break, but stay focused and be ready for each start. I think I have to bear down and keep grinding it out."

Darvish gave up 11 hits, walked four and struck out nine while throwing a season-high 123 pitches. But manager Ron Washington said Darvish's command was not the problem on Monday night.

"I think you have to give the Boston Red Sox credit," Washington said. "They swung the bats tonight. He threw the ball in the strike zone, and they hit him. The [box] score doesn't look good, but he threw strikes and used all his pitches.

"When he threw his secondary pitches for strikes, they hit it. When he threw his fastball for strikes, they hit it. It just wasn't Yu Darvish's night. It was the Boston Red Sox's night."

Washington said he will take his chances with Darvish if he can throw strikes like he did Monday night. But the 11 hits were a season high and seven of them were doubles, the most given up by a Rangers pitcher in one game. Darvish had not allowed more than two doubles in any of his previous starts.

Darvish knows this isn't good enough, and like the Red Sox manager, he knows that something is drastically different from what he did in Japan.

"When I came over, I had to make adjustments to the Major Leagues, and I have been open to that," Darvish said. "But the Rangers want me for the pitcher that I was. Pitching coach Mike Maddux said you go out and give it all you got, battle and compete and stay focused. Don't get too emotional or get too upset.

"Instead of just trying to get hitters out, I was worried about things like throwing first-pitch strikes. I was thinking negatively. That was something that I had never done in Japan. I need to just focus, compete and just get hitters out."

Red Sox starter Aaron Cook did that, holding the Rangers to one run in seven innings to snap a personal three-game losing streak. The Rangers took a 1-0 lead off him in the second on a double by Nelson Cruz and then an RBI single by David Murphy. But Darvish, after working through the Red Sox order for two scoreless innings, gave up two runs in the third and three more in the fourth.

Back-to-back doubles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford to start the third tied the game, and then Adrian Gonzalez put the Red Sox ahead with another double. Darvish got himself in trouble in the fourth with a one-out walk to Ryan Kalish. Mike Aviles then singled to center, and Ellsbury doubled Aviles in to bring home a run. But the Red Sox still had runners at second and third. Crawford plated one run with a sacrifice fly and then a double by Dustin Pedroia made it 5-1.

"Overall, my pitches were pretty good, but I gave up some hits that weren't hit too hard, and I gave up extra-base hits when I shouldn't have," Darvish said. "A lot of things are not going my way right now."

Much of the damage was done by the top four Red Sox hitters in the lineup. Ellsbury, Crawford, Pedroia and Gonzalez were a combined 11-for-18 with seven runs, eight doubles and eight RBIs.

"First time I've seen Darvish," Ellsbury said. "He has tremendous stuff, but I thought our approach was very good tonight. We got in hitter's counts, and we stayed inside a lot of balls and used the [left-field] wall to our advantage. When we did get a pitch to hit, we put a good swing on it."

That was obvious to the Rangers.

"They were certainly swinging it tonight," Washington said. "We've seen them do it before. They've done it to many people and did it to us tonight. We just got beat. They hit everything."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.