Los Angeles, (AFP): The Texas Rangers’ Japanese pitching ace Yu Darvish struck out a season-high 12 batters Friday as the Rangers secured home-field advantage throughout the Major League Baseball playoffs with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Darvish became just the third pitcher in Rangers history to strike out at least a dozen in six innings, joining Nolan Ryan and Matt Perisho.
He allowed just three hits and one run while walking one.
“I had good results today,” said Darvish, whose 12 strikeouts were the most he’s had in a start since 2014. “That was a good sign for the playoffs. Overall I was commanding my pitches and I feel good about all of my pitches. That was a good outing today.”
Texas gave Darvish early support with Adrian Beltre’s run-batted-in single off Matt Andriese in the first inning.
American League West division champions Texas doubled the lead in the third with Carlos Beltran’s home run.
Tampa Bay dinged Darvish for a run in the sixth, when Evan Longoria’s double drove in a run.
But with Longoria at second, Darvish struck out the next three batters and the Rangers added another run in the bottom of the sixth on Rougned Odor’s 33rd homer of the season.
The Rangers locked up home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs, and the American League holds home field advantage in the World Series thanks to their All-Star Game triumph.
Elsewhere on Friday, as Major League Baseball’s regular season headed into its final weekend, the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles edged closer to post-season berths.
Mets slugger Jay Bruce homered for the third straight game, knocking in three runs in a 5-1 victory over the Phillies in Philadelphia that assured the Mets of at least a tie for a National League wild card berth, with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants also in the chase for the two NL wild card spots.
Baltimore’s Jonathan Schoop tied a career-high with five RBIs and hit one of three home runs for the Orioles in an 8-1 rout of the Yankees in New York.
Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 47th homer for the Orioles, who took a one-game lead in the American League wild card race over Toronto — who fell 5-3 to the Red Sox in Boston.
Toronto’s defeat not only saw them slip behind Baltimore, it saw their lead over Detroit for the second AL wild card dwindle to half a game with the Tigers’ 6-2 win over the Atlanta Braves.