The Texas Rangers took a shutout win behind ace pitcher Yu Darvish in Sunday’s game against the Washington Nationals, despite losing two challenges on the same play. This incident marked the first time since the system began this season that both teams used their challenge on the same play.
Texas faltered a little over the weekend with two embarrassing losses to the Washington Nationals, but managed to end the three-game series on a high note thanks to the return of their best pitcher. Darvish missed his last scheduled start due to a stiff neck, but looked in top shape on Sunday, throwing 12 strikeouts in eight innings and allowing only five hits all game. His command for the afternoon was incredible—his 12 strikeout pitches crossed the plate at 11 different speeds, the slowest of them a 59 mph curveball that left Adam LaRoche stunned at the plate.
Soria closed the ninth inning with the same confidence he has exuded in his last several appearances, putting the Nationals away in order with two strikeouts and a groundout. Soria has a 1.13 earned run average and four saves over the last 30 days.
A botched double-steal resulted in two lost challenges for Texas in the first inning, losing them a run as well, but the Rangers put up two runs late in Darvish’s shutout to take the win. Leonys Martin sent one over the wall in the seventh, and Donnie Murphy hit a line drive single to center field in the eighth to send Daniel Robertson home. Murphy and Robertson were added to the lineup to give Mitch Moreland and Shin-Soo Choo a day off.
The double-steal attempt came with two outs in the first, when Alex Rios made a run for second base. As soon as Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos threw the ball, Elvis Andrus made a break for home from third. Rios was ruled out for over-sliding after initially being called safe, but Andrus’ run stayed on the board, with Clint Fagan ruling from home that Andrus crossed the plate before Rios was tagged.
Matt Williams, Washington’s manager, came out of the dugout to challenge the call at home, saying Rios was tagged first. He was followed by Ron Washington, who challenged the ruling at second base, which superseded the call at home.
Texas lost both challenges after nearly three minutes of review. Andrus’ run was taken away and Texas found themselves back on defense and out of challenges for the rest of the game.
Though they did not have their best offensive outing, Texas totaled 10 hits on 33 at-bats, sending in two runs. Martin’s home run to put Texas back on the board in the seventh was his third of the season. Rios struck out in the eighth, bringing up Adrian Beltre, who was intentionally walked by Drew Storen to get to Donnie Murphy. Murphy, who admitted after the game that he took it “personally,” threw Storen’s pitch right back at him, scoring Robertson to earn his 11th RBI of the season. Murphy went 3 for 4 on Sunday.
The Rangers’ battered lineup and the two early challenge losses may have had fans skeptical, but Darvish and Soria shutout the Nationals and ended the three-game series on a positive note. Texas won seven out of 11 games in their road trip, and return home to Arlington to host the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday evening.
Commentary by Christina Jones
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering the Texas Rangers
Follow Christina’s Coverage in the Rangers Roundup