"I wasn't really conscious of throwing a complete game," Darvish said. "I thought I was going to be out of the game after the eighth inning."
He was wrong.
As Darvish closed his mitt around the ball that would represent his first career complete game, and extended his arms wide for an embrace with pitching coach Mike Maddux, his initial doubt immediately transformed into his staple celebration.
Darvish did go out for the ninth inning in the Rangers' 6-0 defeat of the Marlins on Wednesday. He did throw the complete game for the first time in his career. And in the meantime, the right-handed ace did it in shutout fashion.
It was the first shutout by a Texas righty since Alexi Ogando blanked the Chicago White Sox in May 2011, and with his 24th career game with at least 10 strikeouts, Darvish is tied for the second most in club history behind Nolan Ryan, who has 34.
"It's not that easy to throw shutouts at the Major League level. It's not," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I know back in the day, they probably had a few of them that did it with regularity. But it just doesn't happen in the game today. There's many more in his future. The guy can pitch."
But Darvish was the first to admit that he struggled to command his pitches, particularly early on before he found his pace.
"Not just the fastball," Darvish said. "I didn't really have any command of any of the pitches."
As he found his rhythm, his teammates complemented it with their bats.
The Rangers jumped to a quick 3-0 lead in the third inning when Shin-Soo Choo sent a bases-clearing double to right field, scoring Chris Gimenez, who had walked, and Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus, who had both singled.
With the double, Choo snapped an 0-for-18 hitting streak that stretched back to June 6, over the span of more than four games.
"I needed just one hit," Choo said. "One good hit -- hit hard. That's all I needed."
Choo himself scored after advancing to third on an Adrian Beltre groundout and finding home plate when Miami starter Jacob Turner threw a wild pitch during Alex Rios' at-bat.
Turner went four innings, allowing five runs on six hits, and the Rangers scored again in the fourth when Gimenez singled to bring in center fielder Leonys Martin. Choo struck again in the fifth, bringing in Andrus for the Rangers' sixth and final run.
Washington credited his position players for giving Darvish run support. With the six runs, the Rangers were able to snap a four-game losing streak and put a halt to Miami's 13-game Interleague win streak, tied for the longest in MLB history.
As Darvish stood in front of his locker, his arm wrapped tightly and his smile wide as his teammates congratulated him, he took a moment to let it all sink in.
But a few minutes later, he had just one thing on his mind.
"It was a good feeling," Darvish said. "But I just wanted to go home."
And with that -- his first career shutout in tow -- the 27-year-old swiftly exited.