ARLINGTON, Texas -- As if there was any doubt that Yu Darvish was ready for the regular season.
The Rangers' ace saved his best spring start for last, commanding the strike zone with marksmanship in Thursday's 12-1 victory over the Mexico City Rojas Diablos in an exhibition game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Darvish dazzled the home fans by pounding the strike zone. He threw 52 pitches, 42 of them for strikes. He allowed one hit, a single by Red Devils shortstop Jesus Lopez to lead off the fourth inning.
Darvish pitched well in Arizona, allowing three runs in 13 ⅔ innings. He was even better Thursday in Arlington. Even he said he could feel it.
"I felt very good throwing today compared to what I did in Arizona," Darvish said through an interpreter. "Compared to last year, where I am right now, I feel very relaxed. I’m glad I was able to do that, to pitch here, before the season started.”
Darvish had seven strikeouts, including three in the second inning, two of them on fastballs and one on a slider. He had two strikeouts in the fourth inning, both on sliders. He also had a good cutter and changeup, pitches Darvish wanted to work on in this final spring start, according to catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
“The pitching sequence I used in the game was pretty much similar to what I’ll be using in the regular season," Darvish said. "I felt really comfortable out there today. And I had really good control.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington said after Thursday's game that Darvish's spring has been all about relaxation and understanding what it takes to pitch in the major leagues. He's leaving the bullpen knowing which pitches he has command of, instead of trying to throw everything in his arsenal.
“His spring is about as good as his finish last year at the end of the season," Washington said. "He threw the ball well. He went out there and used the pitches that he felt worked for him that day. And he was consistent in doing just that."