ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Red Sox had the sense that they were in some serious trouble against Yu Darvish pretty early in Friday's game.
Darvish was racking up strikeout after strikeout, and he was doing so mostly with his fastball, which he hadn't featured as much in previous starts against them.
One by one, the Red Sox headed back to the dugout, bat in hand, head down.
"He was throwing everything for strikes -- slider, fastball, slow curve, change...'' said Xander Bogaerts, who was getting his first look at Darvish. "You name it. He was working the corners good.''
"When you get to two strikes,'' said Dustin Pedroia, "and he hasn't whipped out his best pitch (slider) yet....there's a reason why the numbers were what they were.''
It didn't get much better as the game progressed. Darvish retired the first 20 hitters in a row before allowing David Ortiz to reach on a fly ball that dropped between right fielders Alex Rios and second baseman Rougned Odor with two outs in the seventh. Rios was charged with an error.
The Sox finally broke up Darvish's bid in the ninth when David Ortiz singled through the shift for the only hit in an 8-0 shutout by the Texas Rangers.
"He's never thrown that many heaters,'' said A.J. Pierzynski, who caught Darvish last season while with the Rangers. "He threw the ball well. Give him credit.''
"He had great stuff,'' said Pedroia. "He was locating everything. You know when a guy like that, with that kind of stuff, when he's on his game, it makes it tough. He was pretty darn good.''
For the first seven innings or so, the only ball hit well by the Red Sox was a lineout to left by Grady Sizemore with one out in the fifth.
"He was nasty, I'll tell you that,'' said David Ortiz. "He's always got good stuff. You don't know what you're looking for from him, to be honest with you. He can throw any pitch, anytime. He can throw it for a strike. Nasty.''
Said John Farrell: "He was outstanding. Poweful, lot of strikes, he never gave in and had four pitches working for him within the strike zone. He kept our guys off-balance, but his slider is what makes him pretty special.
"He was on his game early. One thing we were aware of is (waiting to see) how quick would he get the feel for his slider -- and the ability to throw it for a strike, the ability to expand the strike zone with it. He was able to rack up a number of strikeouts and then you get guys looking for (the slider) and he's able to locate a fastball away from a couple of guys as well. That combination of being powerful and the assortment of secondary pitches ends up being a night like tonight.''
Prior to the loss, the Sox had won two straight and seven of their last 11, showing signs that perhaps they had turned a corner.
Then Darvish intervened.
"Can't dwell on one like this,'' said Pedroia. "You just tip your hat and come out tomorrow and try to score some runs and win the game.''