Yu Darvish turned in his best start since April on Tuesday, blanking the Rays for seven innings and striking out 10 as the Rangers won 1-0.
It was Darvish’s third straight quality start, but also the first time since July 21 that he’s ended a start without allowing at least three runs. Darvish went without giving up a run for the second time as a big leaguer; he pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings in a win over the Yankees on April 24.
James Shields was the hard-luck loser for the Rays tonight, allowing one run and three hits in seven innings. He struck out eight while falling to 12-8.
Darvish reached double figures in strikeouts for the eighth time this year. R.A. Dickey is second in the majors with six such games. Felix Hernandez, Shields and Stephen Strasburg have five such games.
While Darvish has been inconsistent in amassing a 4.31 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP, he is 13-9 and the Rangers have gone 15-9 in his starts. The postseason will likely determine whether his rookie campaign is viewed as a disappointment or not.
The Dodgers and Astros have selected their starters for Game 1 of the World Series. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will open the series for the Astros, while fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for the first of two home games at Dodger Stadium.
Keuchel, 29, has been a steady presence for the Astros this postseason. He clinched Game 2 of the ALDS with 5 2/3 innings of one-run, seven-strikeout ball against the Red Sox and returned for his second postseason win with seven scoreless innings against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS. He was outmatched in Game 5 of the Championship Series, however, scattering four runs and eight strikeouts across 4 2/3 innings while the Yankees worked their way up to a 5-0 shutout. Nevertheless, he’s perhaps the Astros’ strongest arm behind ALCS MVP Justin Verlander and has not surrendered a single home run in 17 1/3 consecutive innings this postseason.
Kershaw, on the other hand, has had a less consistent track record in the playoffs. While his postseason yips have been well-documented thus far, his struggles on the mound haven’t always led to disaster — at least not this time around. The Dodgers are 3-0 in all three of Kershaw’s starts this month and enjoyed a quality start from their ace during Game 5 of the NLCS last Thursday. The 29-year-old southpaw recorded his second win of the playoffs with a run, three hits, a walk and five strikeouts over six innings. Unlike Keuchel, he’s given up a home run in each of his outings to date (and four homers in Game 1 of the NLDS).
Game 1 is set for Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM ET. The Dodgers have home field advantage through Games 1 and 2 before the series moves to Houston, and will try to capitalize on that advantage in order to extend their postseason winning streak at Dodger Stadium. They’re 4-0 at home and 3-1 on the road this October, while the Astros boast a 6-0 advantage in Houston and a significantly less impressive 1-4 record away from home.