Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Robbie Ray, left foreground, is relieved by manager Brad Ausmu, center, as catcher Alex Avila looks on, during the fourth inning today in Detroit. ASSOCIATED PRESS
DETROIT — Shin-Soo Choo homered, Chris Gimenez had four hits and the Texas Rangers rolled to a 9-2 victory over the slumping Detroit Tigers today.
Texas was without Prince Fielder, who stayed home when the Rangers left for Detroit to face the big first baseman’s former team. Fielder has been out because of a herniated disk in his neck.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view more photos
Yu Darvish (4-2) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking three. The Rangers broke through quickly against Detroit rookie Robbie Ray (1-1), who lasted only 3 1-3 innings. Ray allowed seven runs, nine hits and four walks, and the AL Central-leading Tigers lost their fourth straight.
Ian Kinsler, who was traded to Detroit for Fielder in an offseason blockbuster, went 1 for 3 in his first game against the Rangers.
The Tigers breezed to a 27-12 start before being swept in a three-game series at Cleveland. Star right-handers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were both knocked around in that series, and a 13-inning finale against the Indians taxed the bullpen. Ray’s start Thursday made the situation even worse, and infielder Danny Worth ended up pitching the ninth inning for Detroit.
Worth, throwing what looked like a knuckleball, actually struck out two in a scoreless frame.
Alex Rios opened the scoring with an RBI double off Ray in the second, and Gimenez drove him home with a single. Adrian Beltre added a two-run double the following inning and later scored to make it 5-0.
In half of Darvish’s first eight starts, the Rangers failed to provide a single run of support. That wasn’t a problem Thursday. Choo’s two-run homer in the fourth chased Ray, and Michael Choice’s two-run single later that inning gave the Rangers a nine-run lead.
Texas has won back-to-back games for only the second time this month, but the day wasn’t without its anxious moments for the Rangers. In the third inning, Kinsler lifted a shallow fly to right-center. Center fielder Daniel Robertson came diving in headfirst to try to make the catch, at the same time Rios came sliding in from right. The two collided, and Robertson stayed down for a little while before leaving the game.
X-ray and concussion tests were negative, and Robertson was to be evaluated further at a hospital.
The Tigers lead second-place Minnesota by 4½ games in the division, but they’ve allowed 31 runs in their last four games, an uncharacteristic spell for what might be baseball’s best starting rotation.
Detroit’s starters have allowed 19 earned runs over a three-game span, the first time that’s happened since May 24-27, 2011, according to STATS. The last time a position player pitched for the Tigers was also in 2011, when Don Kelly did it.
NOTES: Gimenez had never even had a three-hit game before Thursday. ... Detroit’s extra-inning loss to Cleveland on Wednesday took 5 hours, 16 minutes. Thursday’s game looked as if it might stretch past 4 hours for a while, but it sped up toward the end and was over in 3:30. ... Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-2) takes the mound against Texas RHP Scott Baker (0-0) on Friday night.