The Rangers won 14-3 on Sunday.

It all boiled down to one play.

Or, more specifically, one replay.

While Prince Fielder had his first three-hit game with the Rangers, J.P. Arencibia his first home run and Yu Darvish his first real dose of run support for the season, MLB’s new instant replay protocols played as big a role as the bats or the arms in the trouncing of Los Angeles.

The Rangers won a critical challenge to get an out at third base early in the game when Darvish was still shaky and the Angels were still competitive. It made all the difference in the world.
“I’m all for it,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “I feel sorry for some of the umpires that have calls overturned because I’m sure it hurts their pride, but it helped me today so I can say I’m a big fan of it.”

Boy, did it ever help.

Despite getting three runs in the first and two more in the second, Darvish was teetering on the brink of a second straight disaster of a start when Erick Aybar came to the plate with two on and one out in the second inning. Darvish gave back two of the three first-inning runs in the bottom of the first, and it seemed like he was about to let a little more of the lead leak away.

When Aybar dribbled a ball up the third base line, though, Darvish reacted quickly to get to the ball, and then, like a good Wishbone quarterback, he made a backhanded shuffle pass to Adrian Beltre, who was racing back to third base to cover the bag. The ball beat runner C.J. Cron to the bag, but umpire Lance Barrett ruled Beltre wasn’t on the base.

Oh, but Beltre begged to differ. He immediately started waving frantically for manager Ron Washington to come challenge the call. Replay back in the Rangers’ clubhouse seemed to confirm Beltre’s own eyes.

“When I got the ball, I wasn’t on the bag, I had to find it,” Beltre said. “So when I got to the bag, and looked down, I saw his feet slide in.”

Officials at MLB’s Replay World Headquarters confirmed that’s exactly what happened.

Instead of having to face Mike Trout with the bases loaded and one out and knowing that Albert Pujols, who homered in the first, was likely to get an at-bat, too, Darvish was able to get out of the inning by striking out Trout.

“There is no doubt that is a huge play,” Beltre said. “First of all, it was a really good play by Darvish just to get the out. And it changed the game. They are coming back. If you end up facing Trout with one out and the bases loaded, well, that can be trouble. You don’t know what will happen, but I feel like this was huge.”