Rangers likely to shut down Yu Darvish for the season

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No official announcement has been made yet, but during a radio appearance today Rangers general manager Jon Daniels indicated that Yu Darvish is unlikely to pitch again this season because of an elbow injury.

Darvish was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation on August 13 and here’s what Daniels said this afternoon (via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News):

By the calendar and how close to the end of the season we are, I don’t know that it will allow him to pitch again. I think it’s critical going into next year for us to put all these injury issues and concerns behind us as we possibly can. It doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me to take a risk when the MRI clearly shows there is something going on in there.

Darvish has taken a surprising amount of criticism–from seemingly uninformed local media members and also from his manager–but why the Rangers would rush him back to throw meaningless September innings for a last-place team is unclear. Daniels at least seems to recognize that, saying:

There is a difference between playing when you are tired or a sore ankle vs a pitcher when he’s got an elbow issue. They are two very different things. That’s why medical staff and people like myself make these decisions. This not an emotional thing about quitting on the team. Yu has an elbow issue that fortunately looks like it won’t have a long-term impact and we’re not going to let it.

Hopefully that will squash any notion of Darvish sitting out with an injury he could pitch through. If he’s done, Darvish will finish his third MLB season with a 3.06 ERA in 22 starts, leading the league in strikeout rate for the second year in a row at 11.3 per nine innings.

Mike Leake loses perfect game bid on leadoff single in the ninth

Mike Leake
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Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.

It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.

The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.

In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.

Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.