"In the third inning, I turned to Chino [Cadahia, bench coach] and said, 'Boy, this guy's got a shot at a no-hitter today,'" Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was throwing a 97-mile-an-hour fastball, then a 95 that was cutting, sinking, and a 92-mph split. He had a 68-to-64-mph curveball. The variations on his speeds were tremendous, his command was excellent."
The no-hitter and the perfect game lasted two outs into the sixth inning. On Darvish's 64th pitch of the 90-degree day, he walked Johnny Giavotella on a 3-2 pitch.
"When I threw the pitch ... I tried to throw it down the middle, and I threw it on the outside edge," Darvish said. "At the moment, I wanted the call. But after I looked at the replay, I saw it was barely a ball, which goes to show the umpire was right and the batter had a very good at-bat."
With that, the wheels fell off for the 6-foot-5 Japanese right-hander. David Lough got the first hit, a soft liner just out of shortstop Elvis Andrus' reach in left field.
"I saw Andrus go back for it. It was kind of tailing a little bit, kind of inside out. I got it off the end, had some spin on it, so I was lucky it got down," Lough said.
Tony Abreu followed with a line drive that right fielder Nelson Cruz seemed about to catch but then he couldn't quite get there. Abreu hit a two-run triple, and now the shutout was over, too.
"He was mixing up real well, pitching a great game," Lough said. "All it took was that one hit, and that's when other people can feed off of that, start getting some hits, and we got some runs on the board."
Alex Gordon's line drive fell in front of diving left fielder David Murphy, who lost his glove in the process, and went for an RBI double. It was Gordon's 45th double, the most in the Majors. Billy Butler launched a long drive that was caught in deep left and the inning was over, but the Royals had cut the Rangers' lead in half, to 6-3.
Darvish also pitched a one-two-three seventh, so six of his seven innings were perfectly done.
"It was tough hitting, obviously. We couldn't do much against him the first six, and then Gio drew the walk and it kind of opened it up a little bit for us," said Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. "Everybody kind of relaxed and settled down a little bit. Lough got that hit, and it's like, 'OK, here we go,' and he kind of unfolded. But he threw the ball perfect for six innings -- he was really tough. He struck me out twice, and it was just a battle against that guy."
The Royals also managed a run off reliever Mike Adams in the eighth inning on an RBI single by Abreu. That gave Abreu his second straight three-RBI game.
Other than that, it was a Texas shootout.
The Rangers sent five home runs sailing over the fence at Kauffman Stadium, four of them off Royals starter Bruce Chen. But catcher Brayan Pena took his share of the responsibility.
"I blame myself a lot, a hundred percent, because I need to do a better job calling the game. I need to do a better job preparing myself for the game," Pena said. "Bruce trusts me 100 percent, so that's why I can't blame Bruce. I have to blame myself, because I need to do a better job and try to make a better adjustment to a lineup like that."
Geovany Soto started the assault with a three-run homer to left field in the second inning -- his third homer in just five career games in Kansas City. Josh Hamilton lofted a 419-foot solo shot to right-center field in the third inning, his 38th.
In the sixth, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz hit back-to-back bombs to left field off successive pitches from Chen. The Cruz shot traveled 428 feet, landing just short of the Royals Hall of Fame.
"Bruce actually threw the ball pretty good. He was sharp, but this is a club that won't let you get away with mistakes like some clubs will," Yost said. "You make a mistake and they're going to take advantage of it, and that was proved today with five home runs."
The fifth home run came against Louis Coleman, just after a mild brouhaha. As the Rangers' ninth began, Coleman drilled Cruz with a pitch. Cruz started to move toward the mound, Pena intervened and players spilled out of both dugouts and bullpens onto the field. Order was promptly restored as Cruz went to first base and Coleman went back to the mound.
On his next pitch, Michael Young hit a shot over the left-field wall for a two-run homer, no doubt soothing Texas' anger.
Certainly the Rangers had a lot to be happy about as they finally showed off Darvish to the Royals.
"This is the first time we've seen him," Yost said. "We didn't see him in Spring Training, we hadn't seen him to this point in the season. He was very impressive."