Yu's perfect run in Houston ends with rough start
Astros tag Rangers ace for five earned runs for first Minute Maid loss
HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers have been struggling in 2014. It was Yu Darvish's turn to struggle on Saturday, failing to get out of the fifth inning in taking the loss against the Astros.
The right-hander just didn't have it, from start to early finish. He didn't pitch like one of the American League's premier pitchers, which he is.
And Darvish's troubles occurred at Minute Maid Park, where he hadn't lost in his three previous starts (all in 2013). A poor performance on Saturday from Darvish, who couldn't get out of a Houston four-run fifth inning, led to another Rangers defeat, 8-3, and a seventh consecutive loss to the Astros.
"Yu Darvish is human," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "He can have a bad night."
Darvish gave up two first-inning runs and never seemed to be on his game.
"Just didn't have any command of his fastball and couldn't find another pitch he could go to until he went back to that fastball," said Washington. "Just didn't get comfortable on the mound tonight, had no rhythm. Just wasn't his night."
Darvish (10-7) needed 113 pitches (71 for strikes) to go four-plus innings. He didn't retire any of the five batters he faced in the fifth, allowing four hits and four runs in the inning.
The Rangers ace gave up six runs (five earned) and nine hits with a wild pitch. He struck out seven and walked four.
"It was difficult to locate my fastball and my breaking ball was not crisp," Darvish said through a translator. "Overall, I had a hard outing today. I'm accountable for what happened. I just didn't have a good start."
A bright spot for the Rangers was Jim Adduci's first Major League home run. Adduci's two-run shot to right-center off winner Scott Feldman (6-8) scored Daniel Robertson and reduced the Astros' lead to 6-2. The home run came in Adduci's 96th career at-bat.
Designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo had four of the Rangers' 10 hits, matching his career high in hits. His last hit, a ninth-inning single off Mike Foltynewicz was his 1,000th career hit.
"I never thought about 1,000 hits when I came to the Major Leagues," said Choo.
The Rangers are 3-9 against the Astros this season. The Astros also tagged Darvish for six runs on July 9 in Arlington.
Houston won the first game of the series on Friday, 4-3.
Trouble started early for Darvish, who allowed two first-inning runs while throwing 31 pitches. The first batter Darvish faced was Robbie Grossman, the star of Houston's comeback win the night before.
Grossman walked on an 11-pitch at-bat, and scored on Jon Singleton's single to right. The Astros' second run came on an errant toss from second baseman Rougned Odor to shortstop Elvis Andrus, allowing Chris Carter to score from second.
"Robbie Grossman set the tone tonight with that first at-bat," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "That's some kind of AB and I think the rest of the guys pretty much just followed suit and put up quality at-bat after quality at-bat, until you look up and it's 110 pitches or something after four innings."
The Astros had two hits off Darvish in each of the first two innings in building a 2-0 lead. Through three innings, Darvish had thrown 73 pitches, 46 for strikes.
"Yu's a great pitcher, obviously, and the more pitches we can get him to throw early, the better off we'll be," said Grossman, who scored three times.
Daniel Robertson replaced Mike Carp in left field to start the bottom of the third inning for the Rangers. Carp left the game with tightness in his left groin and is listed as day to day. In Carp's place, Robertson threw out Jake Marisnick trying to stretch a single into a double leading off the bottom of the fourth.
Singleton's no-out, two-run double down the right-field line gave the Astros a 4-0 lead in the fifth, and Matt Dominguez followed with a run-scoring single that gave the Astros a 5-0 lead, chasing Darvish from the game.
Despite falling behind early, the Rangers had an opportunity to get back in the game in the seventh inning after loading the bases with one out. But the Rangers managed only one run on Andrus' sacrifice fly off Josh Fields.