"I thought he did a great job for us," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He actually kept us in the ballgame. He did his job."
Darvish allowed five hits while striking out seven. He did not walk a batter after allowing at least one walk in all 29 regular-season games. He just wasn't quite as good as Orioles starter Joe Saunders.
"Tonight I felt very good," Darvish said. "I felt my command was good, and I was able to keep the team in the game. So I thought I pitched pretty good tonight."
The first run was unearned. Orioles leadoff hitter Nate McLouth opened the first inning with a grounder at first baseman Michael Young, who fumbled it for an error. McLouth then stole second and scored on a single by J.J. Hardy.
But the Rangers were able to tie it in the bottom of the inning, leaving Saunders and Darvish to match zeros. Darvish, after the first-inning single by Hardy, had retired 15 of 17 hitters going into the sixth. But Hardy and Chris Davis led off with singles, putting runners at first and third, and Adam Jones followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
At that point, Darvish started feeling some tightness in the trapezius muscle in his right shoulder. Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux and trainer Kevin Harmon all went to the mound. The Rangers even summoned interpreter Joe Furukawa to the mound to make sure they understood what Darvish was saying. It required a conference of six umpires before Furukawa was allowed out on the field, but Major League rules allow an interpreter during injury situations.
After much debate and a few trial pitches, Darvish decided he could continue.
"I felt a light cramp in there," Darvish said. "But at that time, I had discomfort. I didn't know if I could throw or continue to throw. They let me throw a few more pitches, and I stretched out a little bit, and I felt fine."
Darvish got out of the sixth inning with it still a one-run game. But he gave up a one-out single to Ryan Flaherty in the seventh and then Manny Machado bunted pinch-runner Robert Andino to second. With McLouth, a left-handed hitter, coming up, Washington decided to bring in left-hander Derek Holland. Darvish had thrown 91 pitches and didn't appear as if he wanted to come out.
"Getting taken out in the seventh inning or any time the manager takes me out, that's his call," Darvish said. "That's his decision. So I never question what the manager does."
McLouth ended up driving home the run with a single to left.
"I wanted to match up right there, a lefty against a lefty," Washington said. "That was the fourth time they were coming around, and I just thought in that situation try to keep the game at 2-1. I thought Derek could come in and make some pitches on McLouth. It just didn't work out. Once again, you make moves, and if the players get it done, great move; players don't get it done, you're left open."
This was a night when not much worked for the Rangers, and Darvish ended up getting a loss in his first postseason start.
"I don't have any feelings to tell you guys right now," Darvish said. "I haven't had enough time to think it over or sink it in."