ANAHEIM -- Three times this season Ron Washington has had personal meetings with Yu Darvish that the Rangers' manager believes have been mutually beneficial.
"Size of mound, slope, understanding umpires, catchers, game plan ... there [were] a lot of adjustments that guy had to make," Washington said of the Japanese right-hander, who goes against Zack Greinke in Thursday night's series finale against the Angels. "And at the same time, he was trying to please a lot of people -- a whole country.
"Our superstars are trying to please their team. I think he's done a [heckuva] job under the circumstances. He has a lot to deal with, and I'm glad it's behind him now. Now all he's got to think about is baseball. I think that's what he had in Japan -- just going out there and letting it fly."
A turning point for Darvish, in Washington's mind, came when he got knocked around by the Red Sox in Boston on Aug. 6, yielding six earned runs on 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Since that outing, Darvish has gone 4-1, with the Rangers winning five of his six starts. He has surrendered only 11 earned runs in 42 2/3 innings during that span, a 2.32 ERA. He has 51 strikeouts against 13 walks in the stretch.
"I think he figured it out in Boston when he got beaten around a little bit," Washington said. "He's been different ever since. His mindset, attitude, has changed."
One of their meetings came after that performance. Washington isn't sure if something he said connected with Darvish, but he believes the sessions have been productive.
"Each meeting was a learning experience for both of us," the manager said. "He opened up to me. Maybe I mentioned some things that clicked with him. Sometimes as a manager you've got to help a guy release it. Everybody talks so much about the negative. There's always good inside the bad if you look for it. I expressed the good."
Whatever he's doing, it seems to be working. Darvish's ERA has dropped from 4.57 to 4.02 since that pounding in Boston. The big guy has been dealing when it matters, down the stretch.