Facing a must-win situation against a pitcher that has muzzled the Rangers in previous outings Yu Darvish was at his most wild ever on Thursday.

He gave back an early lead walked or hit a total of seven batters piled up pitches by the bundle and made an early exit.
And when it was done and the Rangers had escaped Tampa Bay with an 8-2 win a split of the four-game series and control of the wild-card race manager Ron Washington couldn’t heap enough praise on Darvish.

“If he didn’t know what it means to grind he knows it now” Washington said. “He was effectively wild all night and he got into some trouble but when he had to make a pitch he made one. He could not find a rhythm or an arm slot all game but he kept battling.
“Sometimes you have to find a way to do things even when you are not at your best” Washington added. “He did that tonight.”

Darvish could only get through five innings in 109 pitches but by that time he had something he hasn’t had in what seemed like forever: A lead. Displaying a combination of power at the plate and aggressiveness on the bases that has been lacking lately only kept adding to the lead.

The win clinched the best-of-7 season series with Tampa Bay 4-3. So if the two teams end up tied for the two wild-card spots the Rangers would host the game. If the teams wind up tied for the second wild-card spot the Rangers would host the play-in game to get to the wild-card game. Cleveland remains in hot pursuit of both teams one-half game back.

And now the Rangers are going to Kansas City for the final road series of the year. The Royals trail the wild-card leaders by three games with 10 to play. Winning the series in Kauffman Stadium — no easy task — would tighten the Rangers’ hold on a playoff berth.
“This was a big win” said shortstop Elvis Andrus. “We’re playing better baseball and you can feel people relaxing again.”

Andrus and leadoff man Ian Kinsler were at the center of the offense’s charge. They combined to reach base seven times. Andrus drive in three runs with a two-out two-run infield single and a homer. Kinsler scored the second run on Andrus’ infield single. When both of them score in the same game the Rangers are 28-4 this season.