Yu Darvish allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings Wednesday night, but didn’t get much help. Tony Dejak AP
Yu Darvish allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings Wednesday night, but didn’t get much help. Tony Dejak AP

Texas Rangers

Indians top Darvish as Rangers play waiting game on trades

June 28, 2017 10:23 PM

UPDATED June 28, 2017 11:11 PM

CLEVELAND

Calls for the Texas Rangers to trade Yu Darvish, and crass remarks about the need to extend his contract immediately, started leaking onto social media early Wednesday night.

Those tired witticisms usually come from the bitter or disenfranchised, the look-at-me types and the uninformed, every time Darvish doesn’t fulfill the expectations he takes with him to the mound.

The Rangers were pleased with how Darvish pitched over six innings in a 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians. He allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and left the start without any concerns about the triceps tightness that forced out of his last start.

The Rangers, meanwhile, currently have no intentions of trading Darvish and will consider reopening conversations about an extension before season’s end. They might do it before the looming July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

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For now, the Rangers are in a holding pattern. They aren’t buyers or sellers, but rather are observers to see what will happen to a team that is nearing full health in the rotation and is at full health offensively.

Ten more good days before the All-Star break and a good week coming out of it will keep the Rangers from selling potential free agents like Darvish, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez and others, and will likely have them seeking a bullpen piece for a playoff push.

“For the first time since last year, we’re starting to get a look at the full complement of this team,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “In spring training we never got to see it, not with the WBC, the injuries and everything else. The bullpen struggling. It’s been hard to get our arms around the club.”

Despite all the chatter, Darvish (6-6) didn’t pitch all that poorly. There was a costly error to the Indians’ first batter and a leadoff walk in the third that turned into a run.

Any team will take that from its starting pitching. The Rangers had only minimal complaints about Darvish’s lack of off-speed command in the early going, but were encouraged by his two- and four-seam fastballs and a midgame adjustment to his cut fastball.

The offense didn’t provide him with much support against Trevor Bauer, who entered with a 5.53 ERA. The only run he allowed in 6  1/3 innings came on a solo homer by Robinson Chirinos, who connected in his fourth consecutive start.

The bullpen allowed two sloppy runs in the seventh, and those loomed large as the Rangers scored twice in the ninth, one on an Elvis Andrus homer, and brought the potential tying run to the plate.

Daniels noted the club’s improved play the past three weeks (12-7 despite four losses incurred by the bullpen) as a sign that the Rangers will remain in the playoff hunt. The Rangers are likely going to need to secure a wild-card spot to reach the postseason, but are still mindful of the 2015 team’s charge to the American League West crown from eight games back on Aug. 2.

The Rangers acquired Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson at the deadline that year. They won’t unload their top prospects this year, save for the unexpected opportunity to acquire a franchise-altering player, but they are likely to shop for a veteran bullpen piece.

“We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us if that [a third straight AL West title] is going to be an opportunity,” Daniels said. “But between that and the two wild cards, I think this team has shown enough in the past for us to believe in them.

“The bottom line is our lineup and our rotation, we’re going to go as they go. The reality is this is our group. I don’t see us looking outside for upgrades in those areas. The question is bullpen-wise. What are our internal options? And, then, what does the trade market look like?”

Daniels declined to mention where things stand with Darvish, fulfilling a promise he made to agent Joel Wolfe when talks ended during spring training.

Among the factors then that created pause with the Rangers was Darvish’s health, and he has answered those concerns. He threw 101 pitches against the Indians five days after leaving his start at Yankee Stadium following only 88 pitches because of triceps tightness.

Darvish admitted that the triceps was in the back of his mind, primarily because it was similar to the discomfort he felt in 2015 before learning he needed Tommy John surgery. But it was a distant thought after his final two innings of a game in which he thought he pitched well enough to win.

“I think I had decent stuff, and I was getting ground balls,” said Darvish, who struck out six. “They got through the fielders. It is what it is.”

The Indians got him for a the unearned run in the first as Nomar Mazara muffed Jason Kipnis’ deep drive to start the inning. Darvish did well to escape with only one run after two hits.

A leadoff walk to Kipnis and three hits in the third resulted in a 3-0 lead for the Indians, who went to their bullpen horse, Andrew Miller, in the seventh. The Rangers turned to Ernesto Frieri and Dario Alvarez in the seventh, and the Indians added two runs.

If the Rangers are going to make a trade next month, it will be for a veteran reliever for the bullpen.

“There’s a value in sooner than later to have these guys for a longer period of time,” Daniels said. “But when you’re evaluating the bullpen market vs. the others, the price you’d pay to day vs. the price you’d pay later is significantly different.”

For now, despite the social media cattiness, Darvish and other potential free agents aren’t on the trading block.

Jeff Wilson: 817-390-7760, @JeffWilson_FWST

Texas

000

010

002

3

7

1

Cleveland

102

000

20x

5

11

0

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

DeShields cf

4

0

0

0

0

2

.278

Choo rf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.253

Andrus ss

4

1

3

1

0

0

.301

Beltre 3b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.290

Mazara lf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.262

Lucroy c

4

1

1

0

0

1

.261

Odor 2b

4

0

1

1

0

0

.206

Chirinos dh

4

1

1

1

0

2

.248

Gallo 1b

1

0

0

0

1

1

.194

Gomez ph

1

0

0

0

0

1

.250

Kozma 1b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.114

Totals 34

3

7

3

1

9

Cleveland AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Kipnis 2b

3

2

2

0

1

0

.239

Lindor ss

4

1

2

1

1

0

.253

Brantley lf

4

0

2

2

0

1

.299

Encarnacion dh

4

0

2

1

0

1

.263

Ramirez 3b

4

0

1

1

0

0

.322

Chisenhall rf

3

0

0

0

1

3

.306

Santana 1b

4

0

1

0

0

0

.224

Zimmer cf

3

1

1

0

1

1

.291

Perez c

3

1

0

0

1

1

.178

Totals 32

5

11

5

5

7

E—Mazara (3). LOB—Texas 5, Cleveland 9. 2B—Kipnis (14), Encarnacion (9). HR—Chirinos (12), off Bauer; Andrus (10), off Allen. RBIs—Andrus (46), Odor (32), Chirinos (25), Lindor (37), Brantley 2 (30), Encarnacion (41), Ramirez (36). SB—Kipnis (5). S—Kipnis. Runners left in scoring position—Texas 2 (Mazara 2); Cleveland 6 (Lindor 2, Encarnacion, Chisenhall 3). RISP—Texas 1 for 3; Cleveland 6 for 17. Runners moved up—Beltre. GIDP—Ramirez, Perez. DP—Texas 2 (Andrus, Odor, Gallo), (Beltre, Odor, Gallo).

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Darvish, L, 6-6

6

7

3

2

1

6

101

3.11

Frieri

 1/3

0

2

2

3

0

17

3.60

Alvarez

1 2/3

4

0

0

1

1

30

2.76

Cleveland

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Bauer, W, 7-6

6 1/3

4

1

1

1

3

103

5.24

Miller, H, 17

1 2/3

0

0

0

0

4

21

1.52

Allen

1

3

2

2

0

2

25

2.90

Inherited runners-scored—Alvarez 3-2. Umpires—Home, Tony Randazzo; First, Rob Drake; Second, Pat Hoberg; Third, Gerry Davis. T—3:04. A—21,200 (35,051).

Rangers at Indians

11:10 a.m. Thursday, FSSW