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Rangers, Yu Darvish Respond In Win, But Questions Linger

Yu Darvish limited the Angels to two runs over seven innings while striking out 11, but the talented right hander showed that he is both talented and frustrating in Texas' 9-2 win.

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21:  Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 21, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21: Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 21, 2012 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
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It's tough finding problems in a 9-2 win. Especially a 9-2 win in which every member of Texas' starting lineup records a hit. Especially a 9-2 win in which Texas' offense knocks Ervin Santana out before the second inning ends.

Let's start with the good, though, or even the great. It is quite excellent that Texas' offense exploded. Mike Napoli showing signs of life by hitting two home runs in the first three innings is huge. If Napoli is busting out of his slump, Texas' offense certainly can soar.

What's slightly concerning, though, is that the offense is held back both by Ron Washington and Michael Young. There is no reason that Young should be starting everyday. There is even less reason that Young should be hitting fifth in the lineup.

Young is hitting .268/299/.345 on the season. The players immediately following him in the lineup, Cruz and Napoli, are hitting .263/.323/.433 and .236/.346/.436. No, it's not going to make a gigantic difference over 162 games, but it is maddening that Washington insists on hitting Young ahead of far superior hitters.

Still, Saturday proved that the Rangers can not only win, but dominate, despite not having an optimal lineup out there.

Yu Darvish was also good in the win. He just wasn't great.

Darvish pitched seven innings, and gave up two runs -- both of which, MVP candidate Mike Trout had a hand in. Darvish's numbers were pretty great -- seven innings, three hits, two runs, four walks and eleven strikeouts.

There's not much wrong with a WHIP of 1.00 for the game, but Darvish's control problems prevent him from being a legitimate ace, and this is a problem for the Rangers. Darvish too often got himself into trouble at the bottom of Los Angeles' lineup.

Again, it's nitpicking, but going to a 3-0 count against Erick Aybar, who sports an OBP under .300, just as the Rangers added a run in the top of the third to extend their lead to 7-0 is nothing short of maddening.

In the second inning, Darvish walked Alberto Callaspo, who has a not-so-stellar .324 on base percentage, and an anemic .370 slugging percentage. As talented as Darvish is, it's really inexcusable to walk Callaspo with a six run lead in the second inning.

It's no secret that Darvish has been prone to walking batters, as he's now issued 61 free passes in 116 innings. Darvish needs to attack hitters, especially weaker hitters, if he's going to take a step forward and be a legitimate ace.

Darvish's nibbling is also why I still believe that the Rangers should go out and trade for Zack Greinke to be the staff's anchor come October. The Rangers are going to make the playoffs, but in a short series, the Rangers, as currently constructed, will be sending out a slew of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde's in the playoffs. Darvish can be dominant, and he can be sloppy. Colby Lewis can be dominant, and he can also give up home runs in a hurry. Derek Holland is probably the least consistent pitcher the Rangers have. Matt Harrison has been very good this year, but he's hardly somebody to rely on in Game 5 or 7.

Saturday's win over Los Angeles proved a few things -- that the Rangers are still the top dog in the AL West, that Los Angeles' lineup, outside of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo, is particularly underwhelming, and that Darvish, even when he's brilliant, is maddening.

Still, it's a win. And a dominating win over a division rival at that. It's important to be cognizant of Texas' shortcomings even in a victory. Yes, they're the best team in the American League West, and one of the few teams that can lay a claim to the title, "best team in baseball," but the Rangers still have flaws -- and I'm sure Jon Daniels and Texas' brass know this.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.