ARLINGTON, Texas — While the Texas Rangers are getting close to clinching another AL West title, their top two pitchers are struggling a bit.
Yu Darvish matched a career high allowing seven runs, a night after All-Star lefty Cole Hamels had another subpar outing, and the AL-best Rangers lost 11-2 to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.
“We believe in those two guys, in Cole and Darvish,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Still believe they’re as good as there is out there.”
Darvish (5-5) struck out eight in his five innings, but walked four batters — all of those runners scored — and allowed two homers.
“I’ve been having good command throughout this year. Today I didn’t have it,” Darvish said through his translator. “I think it’s because I wasn’t getting a good feel for it physically, and a feel for the pitches. I’m not talking about pain or anything, it’s just the feel. I just didn’t pitch well today.”
Joey Wendle led off the game with his first major league homer and Marcus Semien also went deep against Darvish.
Carlos Gomez homered for the Rangers (88-61), whose magic number to clinch the division title dropped to five after Houston won 2-1 at Seattle later Saturday night. The Astros and Mariners are both 9 1/2 games back in the AL West with two weeks left in the regular season.
Hamels has allowed at least six runs in three of his four starts, including the series opener Friday night against the A’s when he allowed six runs in six innings before the Rangers rallied to win the game with two outs in the ninth.
There would be no big comebacks Saturday night, after which both Hamels and Darvish will likely have no more than two more starts before the postseason.
“Darvish has put together some quality starts in there,” Banister said. “With Cole, obviously, we’ve seen some challenges, he’s been nicked a little bit, but still, these guys are still throwing quality pitches. … I feel like that these guys are going to continue to find their rhythm and make good pitches for us.”
Raul Alcantara (1-1), among five A’s pitchers to make their MLB debuts this season with a start, had three strikeouts without a walk. He pitched into the sixth, when he allowed a two-run homer to Gomez.
Danny Valencia added another three-run homer for the A’s, his 17th, in the eighth off Dario Alvarez.
Wendle, a rookie second baseman in his 15th career game, hit a 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats. His sacrifice fly in the second made it 4-0, after Darvish had walked the bases loaded to start the second and Bruce Maxwell hit a two-run single
Semien’s three-run homer in the fifth, his 26th, made it 7-0 against Darvish.
“I noticed that early the fastball command wasn’t there. So you get him looking in one spot,” Semien said. “He’s going to throw it in there. He throws a lot of offspeed too, so we were able to key in on one pitch and did a good job.”
NO A FOR YU VS OAKLAND
Darvish is now 2-9 in 13 career starts against Oakland. No other team has beaten Darvish more than four times. When Darvish last faced Oakland — a day after his 30th birthday exactly a month ago Saturday — he struck out nine and walked one in seven innings in a 6-2 victory. Before that, he had gone 0-8 in 10 starts against the A’s since winning against them more than four years earlier in only his eighth game after coming from Japan.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray, out since Aug. 7 with a strained right forearm, threw all of his pitches during a 31-pitch bullpen session. He will get a couple of days off before another bullpen, and could still potentially pitch in another game this season.
Rangers: DH/1B Prince Fielder was in the dugout for the first time since announcing last month that he couldn’t play again after a second spinal fusion surgery. He got his neck brace off just more than a week ago.
Athletics: Since eight scoreless innings in his first start for Oakland, lefty Ross Detwiler is 1-3 with a 5.25 ERA his last seven games (six starts).
Rangers: Colby Lewis (6-2, 3.31) makes his only his second start since a two-month stint on the DL with a strained right lat. The right-hander allowed three runs, all on solo homers, in 5 1-3 innings at the Los Angeles Angels last Sunday.