It took four starts, but Rangers fans have finally seen the future, and the future is Yu.
Yu Darvish pitched his first gem as a pitcher in the United States, dominating the Yankees in a 2-0 win. Darvish got stronger as he went, getting all three outs in the seventh via strikeout. For the night, he gave up seven hits in 8.1 innings with two walks and ten strikeouts. Darvish’s fastball, in the lower 90’s most of the night, was hitting 95 in the 8th inning.
This was the pitcher the Rangers paid over $100 million for in the off-season and tonight he showed why Texas was willing to shell out that kind of money when they could have gotten CJ Wilson to come back for less.
The key to the game came early, in the third inning. Nursing a 1-0 lead, Eric Chavez got the Yankees first hit of the night with a clean single to right. Russell Martin followed with a walk. Derek Jeter proceeded to lay down a bunt down the first base side. Darvish started signalling for first baseman Mitch Moreland to field it, but by the time he realized the play was his alone, it was too late. Jeter was on first with a bunt single and the bases were loaded with nobody out. With a 2-2 count, Darvish threw a 78 mile per hour slider that froze Curtis Granderson in his tracks for strike three. One out. Two pitches later, Darvish got A-Rod to ground to third for a 5-3 double play. End of inning, end of threat.
The Yankees would get a runner to second in the 4th and the 5th, but the threat ended almost as soon as it began. One sequence to Nick Swisher in the 4th stood out. Darvish got a called first strike on a curve Swisher thought was out of the zone. The umpire disagreed and it set Swisher up for the rest of the at bat. Another curve had Swisher feeling he had to swing. He missed. Strike two. An almost identical pitch came next. Swisher swung and missed again for strike three.
When Darvish gave up a one out single to Swisher in the 9th, he left to thunderous applause from 47,000 plus fans. Joe Nathan came in, threw one pitch and got a game-ending double play for his fifth save and Darvish’s third win.
To be sure, the Yankees Hiroki Kuroda pitched a good game too. Only problem was, Kuroda gave up two runs, the first on an Ian Kinsler lead-off home run in the 1st.
In another highlight, Elvis Andrus’ behind the bag snare of a Russell Martin grounder followed by a full turnaround and strike to first was his 212th consecutive chance without an error, a new Rangers record for a shortstop. Elvis has been known to make mental errors leading to bad throws on easy plays, but he’s been mentally sharp all season long so far and has played flawlessly in the field.
Monday’s loss to the Yankees was tolerable because of the ceremonies honoring Ivan Rodriguez’ retirement. One night later, a rookie had his official coming out party. Life is good in Arlington, Texas.