ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish provided evidence that the Rangers’ nine-figure investment in the Japanese pitcher might be a bargain.
The 25-year-old right-hander simply dominated one of baseball’s best lineups in his fourth start for the Rangers, displaying a blend of dazzling stuff and gritty determination. Darvish allowed seven hits and two walks in 8 1/3 shutout innings, throwing 119 pitches while outdueling New York’s Hiroki Kuroda in only the seventh matchup pitting Japanese starting pitchers in major league history.
Darvish thrilled a sellout crowd by racking up 10 strikeouts, nine of which were swinging. He whiffed Yankees with sliders, curveballs, cutters and fastballs. He whiffed Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez twice apiece. He made Alex Rodriguez look foolish with his breaking stuff and Derek Jeter look helpless with a low-90s cutter that kept running away, pumping his fist as Rangers fans sang his first name after that pitch to end the top of the seventh inning.
Darvish’s most impressive work occurred after the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the third. He struck out Granderson on a backdoor slider, benefiting from a few inches of benefit of the doubt by home plate umpire Ted Barrett, and got Rodriguez to hit a weak grounder for a 5-3 double play to end the inning with no damage done.
Closer Joe Nathan needed one pitch to finish the job. He got Ibanez to hit into a 4-6-3 double play.
Kinsler’s early fireworks: Ian Kinsler drove Kuroda’s third pitch of the night deep into the Yankees’ bullpen. The blast, estimated at 439 feet, was Kinsler’s club-record 21st career leadoff homer. It was Kinsler’s fifth home run this season, but his first leadoff shot.
Successful smallball: The Rangers’ second run came in large part because of Elvis Andrus’ speed. He walked with two outs in the third inning and stole second base. That allowed Andrus to score on Josh Hamilton’s single to right field.
Elvis’ excellence: Andrus extended his club-record errorless streak as a shortstop to 50 games in style. He made a spectacular play on a Russell Martin ground ball up the middle, fielding the ball on the run and making a perfect spinning throw to get the out. Andrus also made a sliding backhand grab of a bullet off Rodriguez’s bat in the eighth.
No losing streaks: The 14-4 Rangers still have not lost back-to-back game this season. They haven’t lost two games in a row since Games 6 and 7 of the World Series. Their last regular season losing streak occurred Aug. 23-25 against the Boston Red Sox.
Tidbits: Third baseman Adrian Beltre went 0-for-3 in his return after missing three games due to inflammation near his left hamstring. … Approximately 1,500 tickets remain for Wednesday night’s series finale. All reserved tickets have been sold for this weekend’s series against Tampa Bay, with some obstructed or standing room tickets still available. … Hamilton’s bat twice flew into the outfield grass near the right-field line on swings and misses. Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira mockingly made like an umpire and motioned that the bat landed in foul territory the second time.