ARLINGTON, TEXAS - 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 2⅔ innings, the right-hander’s shortest regular-season outing.
“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 1⅓ 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.
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.”
Dodgers 18, Diamondbacks 5
In Los Angeles, Kenta Maeda opened his season on a winning note in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 18-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Maeda allowed three runs on five hits and two walks over 6⅔ innings at Dodger Stadium and picked up his first win of the season courtesy of Dodgers’ red-hot lineup.
The Japanese right-hander yielded a solo homer to leadoff man Jarrod Dyson in the first, but did not surrender another hit until the fourth inning. He surrendered solo shots to Alex Avila in the fifth and Adam Jones in the seventh while racking up six strikeouts.
Joc Pederson hit the first of four Los Angeles home runs to tie the game in the bottom of the first, and cleanup hitter Cody Bellinger went 4-for-6 with two home runs and six RBIs to help the Dodgers claim their second win of the season.
In Other Games
Phillies 8, Braves 6
Brewers 4, Cardinals 2
Mariners 6, Red Sox 5
Rays 3, Astros 1
Giants 3, Padres 2
Athletics 4, Angels 2
Orioles 5, Yankees 3
Indians 2, Twins 1
Blue Jays 3, Tigers 0
Mets 11, Nationals 8
Royals 8, White Sox 6
Marlins 7, Rockies 3