ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Yu Darvish had long since flopped in his return to Texas when former teammate Joey Gallo beat the Chicago Cubs with one swing.
Gallo hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning and the Rangers rallied for an 8-6 victory Saturday night, giving new manager Chris Woodward a dramatic first win after an opening day drubbing by the Cubs.
“Honestly, I forgot,” Gallo said when asked about his manager’s milestone. “Hopefully we can get many more for him.”
This wasn’t the kind of first Darvish had in mind facing the club that brought him over from Japan and kept him for five-plus seasons. The four-time All-Star walked seven of the first 13 batters, failing to make it out of the third inning in his first meeting with his former team.
Darvish recorded nothing but walks and strikeouts to the first 10 hitters after the Cubs gave him a 3-0 lead, tying a career high by walking six the first time through the order.
Rougned Odor’s RBI single was the first ball in play in the second. An inning later, Darvish’s seventh walk set up Asdrubal Cabrera’s first homer with the Rangers , a two-run shot for a 4-3 Texas deficit.
Darvish was gone a batter later after 75 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, the shortest regular season outing for the right-hander.
“I can’t tell why right now,” Darvish said. “I will have to look at the video tomorrow. But ball was fine. Mound was fine. It was just all about me.”
Gallo’s homer to center field came off reliever Carl Edwards Jr. (0-1), a former Texas minor leaguer who didn’t retire any of the four batters he faced. That included a career-high fourth walk for Nomar Mazara — one of 12 walks for Cubs pitching. Texas pitchers walked seven.
“We’re coming at you,” Woodward said. “If you throw strikes, we’re going to hammer them. If you don’t, we’re not going to swing at them. If that becomes who we are, especially with two strikes, staying stubborn, this will be one of the best offenses in baseball.”
Texas closer Jose Leclerc pitched the ninth for the save, getting Willson Contreras on a flyout to center after Kyle Schwarber bunted away from the shift for a hit to bring the tying run to the plate.
Darvish, who struck out four, missed the last four months of his first season with the Cubs because of elbow and arm injuries. Texas dealt the four-time All-Star to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the trade deadline in 2017.
Edinson Volquez’s layoff was even longer, with his first big league start since July 5, 2017 coming off Tommy John surgery. The right-hander, who reached the majors with the Rangers 14 years ago and was later traded for Josh Hamilton, gave up four runs, six hits and four walks in four innings in his first Texas outing since 2007.
Shawn Kelley (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings before the 433-foot drive from Gallo, his first hit of the season.
Shin-Soo Choo struck out his first four times in his season debut after the Rangers’ only 2018 All-Star wasn’t in the lineup for the opener. But his two-run single with two outs in the seventh pulled Texas within 6-5.
Darvish struck out the first two hitters before walking three straight. He escaped that bases-loaded jam with a strikeout of Cabrera, who had three hits. Darvish opened the second by walking three more in a row before another strikeout of Choo, Odor’s run-scoring hit and a fly out from Elvis Andrus.
After getting pulled, Darvish nodded several times during a conversation with manager Joe Maddon. “The stuff … is really good,” Maddon said. “It’s just about where it’s going. That kind of stuff definitely is going to play post fifth inning, sixth or seventh inning. He just has to get in the zone. And we’ll get him there.”
The Cubs had three straight run-scoring singles in the first inning, starting with Javier Baez after the cleanup hitter homered twice in a 12-4 Chicago win in the opener.
Schwarber added to his RBI single with a solo homer in the fifth , and Contreras followed his with two doubles. The first drove in another run, the second led to him scoring for a 6-3 lead.
Cubs: Another former Texas ace, Cole Hamels, faces is former team. He was 38-21 with a 3.90 ERA in 88 starts for Texas from 2015-18. Chicago acquired the left-hander from the Rangers before the trade deadline last year.
Rangers: RHP Lance Lynn makes his Texas debut. He is 0-4 with a 6.92 ERA in his past nine starts against the Cubs. The first eight of those were with St. Louis.
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