Yu Darvish didn’t get pulled early this time, and didn’t have to try to explain a puzzling loss for Texas.
The Japanese right-hander pitched eight innings in his longest outing since elbow surgery two years ago, and the Rangers scored the tying and go-ahead runs without a hit, completing a four-game sweep with a 5-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
The 30-year-old Darvish retired 15 of 16 batters after giving up three consecutive hits in the third. Two of those were back-to-back solo home runs from Mike Moustakas and Jorge Bonifacio, whose first big league homer came two innings after he singled for his first career hit.
Darvish was coming off a 4-2 loss to Oakland when he imploded in the sixth and was yanked without a chance to work out of trouble with the score tied. He responded with his highest pitch count (113) since Tommy John reconstructive surgery during spring training in 2015.
“He told me since I took him out at 82 that I owed him a lot of pitches,” pitching coach Doug Brocail said. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll add 20-25,’ and you could see him doing the math. That’s only 102. He was bound and determined to throw eight and 100-plus and he got us there.”
Darvish (2-2) struck out eight with one walk as the Rangers finished their second four-game sweep of Kansas City in as many seasons. Texas has won 10 straight against the Royals, who have lost five of six since a four-game winning streak.
Jason Hammel (0-2) came out after starting the fourth inning with a walk, two hit batters and another walk to force in the tying run.
The second hit batter, Robinson Chirinos, got plunked on the right wrist on a check swing, and the ricochet hit home plate umpire Eric Cooper on the right leg. Both hobbled away from the plate, with Cooper ruling a foul ball. It was quickly overturned by replay.
Jurickson Profar walked for a 2-2 tie, forcing Hammel out of the game. Carlos Gomez then gave Texas the lead with an RBI grounder.
“I’ve just got to trust the stuff, let it work,” Hammel said. “For whatever reason, I shifted into trying to make the perfect pitch and overthrowing and really got myself and us in trouble.”
Matt Bush pitched a perfect ninth for his first save this season and the second of the 31-year-old reliever’s career.
Joey Gallo, the first hit batter in the fourth, connected in the sixth for his team-leading sixth homer, an opposite-field drive to left. Robinson Chirinos homered in the eighth, his fourth long ball in 18 at-bats.
Kansas City has a majors-low 46 runs after scoring just five in 40 innings in the series, which included a 1-0 loss in 13 innings in the opener. Manager Ned Yost juggled the lineup, moving Alex Gordon out of the leadoff spot for the first time this season with his .176 average and putting Bonifacio third even though he started the game without a big league hit. Yost gave Lorenzo Cain (team-leading .333 average) the day off.
Power of Elvis
Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus, with a surprising three homers already to put him at 38 for his nine seasons, hit cleanup for the first time in his career. He’s now hit in all nine spots in the order. He had an RBI single for the first Texas run in the third. He struck out twice with runners at first and second. “I didn’t do that bad. Got an RBI at least,” Andrus said.
Royals: C Salvador Perez missed his second straight game with neck stiffness. Manager Ned Yost said he was still day-to-day.
Rangers: RHP Sam Dyson, on the 10-day DL with a right hand contusion after losing his job as closer, will pitch an inning each Monday and Tuesday on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Round Rock. He can return to the Rangers on Friday.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (3-0, 0.44 ERA) makes his 200th career start in the opener of a three-game series at the White Sox. He’s 3-0 for the first time since his rookie season in 2005 and has just two walks with 23 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (1-2, 3.60 ERA) pitches the opener of a three-game home series against Minnesota. He’s 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA in two home starts, including 5 1/3 scoreless innings in an 8-1 win over Oakland.