ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish, trying to protect a 4-2 lead, walked the bases loaded in the sixth inning and had thrown 117 pitches. The Rangers had Tony Barnette warmed up in the bullpen.But manager Jeff Banister stayed with Darvish in the pivotal moment of the Rangers' 6-3 win over the
ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish, trying to protect a 4-2 lead, walked the bases loaded in the sixth inning and had thrown 117 pitches. The Rangers had Tony Barnette warmed up in the bullpen.
But manager Jeff Banister stayed with Darvish in the pivotal moment of the Rangers' 6-3 win over the Angels on Saturday night.
"He's our ace," Banister said. "He had only given up three hits. Only two balls hit really hard. His stuff was real good. I knew where his pitches were. He's our ace. He's got to be able to get out of those situations."
Darvish said it reminded him of a situation on April 18 in Oakland. Darvish took a 2-0 lead into the sixth in that game but was pulled in the middle of the inning and the Athletics rallied for a 4-2 victory.
"I just wanted to get the guys out," Darvish said. "It was a test for me. I had walked three guys. I was high in pitch count. I didn't think they would let me pitch at that point. They did, so that was great."
Banister's faith was rewarded. Darvish retired Andrelton Simmons on a foul pop to third baseman Joey Gallo and retired Ben Revere on a grounder to second. He walked off the field with the lead intact and a gratified manager waiting with words of praise for him in the dugout.
"There are nights where guys, especially elite pitchers like Yu, need to be able to put things together for his team and himself," Banister said. "When things aren't perfect, the pitch count is not in his favor, to be able to rally up and eliminate the batter in key situations.
"That's exactly what Yu was able to do tonight."
Darvish was thrilled that Banister used the word "ace" to describe his pitcher.
"I'm very happy they saw me as Cole Hamels," Darvish said. "I think I had good stuff, but my command was off a bit. That was it."
This was the most pitches Banister has allowed one of his starters to throw in three years and the most by a Rangers pitcher since Darvish threw 126 against the Red Sox on May 9, 2014.
"His stuff was similar to what we saw a couple of weeks ago," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had good at-bats, we made him work for every out, he threw a lot of pitches. We just couldn't get that hit with guys in scoring position to really get a leg up on him."
Darvish is not completely at ease with the high pitch count, not after undergoing Tommy John surgery on March 17, 2015. Darvish remembers throwing 113 pitches against the Astros on Aug. 9, 2014. It was his last outing before the surgery the following spring.
"Every time I throw this many pitches, I think about it," Darvish said. "The last time in 2014 in Houston, I didn't feel anything. It was the next morning I felt something. That's something that stuck in me."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.