TORONTO -- Whatever your biggest complaint about the Texas Rangers has been in 2014, everyone must agree that the starting rotation needs to do a better job in the second half.
Manager Ron Washington has spent a good deal of time in the past month, including before the second-half opener against the Blue Jays on Friday at Rogers Centre, extolling the need for his starters to go deeper.
It's necessary, Washington said, not only to keep his offense in games, but to give a overworked bullpen a chance to catch up and be effective again.
Yu Darvish did just that on Friday and the Rangers' offense responded in kind as Texas snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 5-1 win against the Blue Jays in front of an announced crowd of 38,012.
Darvish has been sharper, but when he needed it to be on Friday night, his stuff was as nasty as its been all season. And for much of the night, he was forced to step up and shut down potential Toronto rallies. He did it in four of his six full innings when the Blue Jays had a runner at second base. Darvish (9-5) closed the first six innings with strikeouts, including five of them with two punch outs and tied a season-high with 12 strikeouts. He allowed five hits, including an infield single to second and a bloop single to center, and walked three.
The Rangers offense also showed some fight. Adrian Beltre's solo homer to start the fifth gave Texas a 1-0 lead against knuckle baller R.A. Dickey. Later in the fifth, Rougned Odor's triple to the gap in right-center scored J.P. Arencibia to make it 2-0.
Arencibia, who started his career with the Blue Jays and played four seasons in Toronto, returned to the Rangers' lineup after a two-month stint in the minors. He was booed, along with former Blue Jay Alex Rios each time he came to the plate. He answered the fans and confirmed the hopes of the Rangers' with a three-run homer to left that gave Texas a 5-0 lead in the seventh. Dickey, who faced the minimum through four innings, allowed five runs on six hits in seven innings.
Colby Rasmus' solo homer to right against Darvish in the bottom of the seventh preceded a walk and a double from Munenori Kawasaki, which led to Neal Cotts replacing Darvish with runners on second and third and two outs. Cotts forced a fly out to end the inning and struck out the side in the eighth. Joakim Soria closed in the ninth.
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