Fans who expected a dominating performance on the hill Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark got just that.
It just wasn’t the guy they expected.
The Texas Rangers were stymied at the plate for second consecutive game, as Oakland A’s rookie Dan Straily outdueled Yu Darvish for a 1-0 win over the American League West leaders.
Oakland (25-22) has won five in a row and looks for the series sweep Wednesday afternoon. The Rangers (29-17) had their division lead sliced to 4 1/2 games, and they hope to avoid their first three-game losing streak this season in the finale of the three-game set.
Straily (2-2) went seven innings and struck out five, and the A’s made a third-inning home run by Yoenis Cespedes stand up. Straily allowed only two singles in his longest outing of the season. Texas had only three hits, none for extra bases.
Darvish had been the Rangers’ bounce-back pitcher this season. Five of his starts had come following a Texas loss, and the second-year ace was 5-0 in those games.
He didn’t add to that total Tuesday. Darvish (7-2) wasn’t bad, but he also wasn’t dominant.
Darvish’s final line — six innings, one run, five hits, three walks and five strikeouts — wasn’t the issue. He lacked sharpness through the 101-pitch outing, which will lead to speculation that he was overworked in his previous start.
Darvish racked up a season-high 130 pitches May 16 against Detroit. He came out for the eighth inning in that game despite the Rangers holding a six-run lead in their eventual 10-4 win.
Darvish, manager Ron Washington and even team president Nolan Ryan defended the decision to leave the 26-year-old right-hander in against the Tigers. Oakland didn’t batter Darvish, but the A’s got to the Texas bullpen earlier than most.
Straily held the upper hand in the supposed pitching mismatch. The righty with an ERA north of 7.00 followed up Bartolo Colon’s strong showing in Oakland’s 9-2 victory Monday.
Texas had only one hit — that coming in the third — after five innings and trailed 1-0.
The A’s piled up three hits through the first two innings, but Darvish also recorded a pair of strikeouts to thwart any potential scoring threat. The fourth hit from Oakland broke the shutout, as Cespedes went deep to straight away center in third.