Yu Darvish was taken off the DL and made his 2014 season debut. Yu started the game with 5 strikeouts in the first 2 innings. He was in control early dominating the strike zone with his fastball and using his slider to get his strikeouts. There were a lot of questions heading into this game regarding Darvish and his health. After being placed on the DL, Darvish threw bullpens and a simulated game but never had a rehab start.
He was adamant after his last bullpen session that he felt fine and was ready to pitch in the big leagues. The Rangers agreed with him and Darvish rewarded them with an outstanding performance. He went 7 innings allowing 7 hits with 6 strikeouts, 1 walk and 0 runs. Whenever Darvish found himself in a jam he was able to make the right pitch and the defense was there to make the play when needed.
The Rangers bats had to deal with Alex Cobb. Cobb had an electric changeup that was giving the Ranger bats all kinds of trouble. He didn’t allow 2 base runners on at the same time and only once did a Ranger get to second base while he was pitching. He was taken out after 7 innings due to his high pitch count. The Rangers had to be thrilled to see someone else on the mound.
Joel Peralta came in to relieve Cobb, and made quick work with the first 2 batters he faced. Shin-Soo Choo changed that when he worked the count full then hit a 2 out single. With Choo on first, Elvis Andrus delivered the Rangers their second home run of the season. On a 3-2 count Elvis got a fastball and drove it into the left field seats giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Donnie Murphy was able to add on a run in the 9th when Adrian Beltre scored on his infield single to shortstop.
Joakim Soria came in and shut down the Rays in the bottom of the 9th giving him his first save of the season. Soria won the closer spot this spring. The save gave Darvish his first win of the season and also prevented the Rays from sweeping the Rangers. The Rangers now head to Fenway Park to take on the Boston Red Sox for 3 games. Tanner Scheppers will get his second start of the season to open the series. The Red Sox will send John Lackey out to face the Rangers. Lackey has a 12-15 record with a 6.01 ERA in 38 career starts vs. the Rangers.
NOTE: Yu Darvish became the fastest pitcher to reach 500 career strikeout in the MLB.