As tune-ups go, Yu Darvish and Justin Verlander didn't exactly breeze through their outings in preparation to take the mound opposite each other at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Thursday. At least that's the schedule as we sit here today.
Darvish got the win on Saturday and allowed just three hits, but he gave up three runs in seven innings to the Houston Astros, who own the worst record in the league. He issued three walks and had eight strikeouts. It was Darvish's sixth quality start in eight outings this season. But it wasn't Darvish at his most dominant, either. It certainly wasn't the Darvish the Astros saw in his near-perfect game early in the season.
Darvish started the season 4-1 with a 1.65 ERA in his first five starts. He's 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in his past three starts.
Darvish did, though, give his team innings and get some offense (a big sixth inning) to back him in the victory (especially after Michael Kirkman struggled and made it a closer game than it should have been). Verlander wasn't as fortunate. He struggled from the very start of his outing against the Cleveland Indians.
Verlander had five walks on Saturday, his most since 2010. That included walking in a run, something he's done just three times in his career. Verlander allowed four runs (three earned) and needed 110 pitches just to get through five innings in a 7-6 loss to the Indians.
Both are at or near the top of the AL in most of the pitching categories and favorites for this year's Cy Young Award. Both will be looking for better outings on Thursday than they had on Saturday. It should be fun to watch.