ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish learned a few things in his major league debut: struggling command can lead to a rough outing against any big league lineup, and his Texas Rangers teammates are capable of erasing deficits in a hurry.
Despite a 42-pitch first inning and a four-run deficit, Darvish left the mound with two outs in the sixth inning with an 8-5 lead. And he received a standing ovation from a large Monday night crowd of 42,003 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. They yelled “Yuuuu” as the pitcher slowly walked off the mound as reliever Alexi Ogando trotted in from the bullpen. Michael Young greeted Darvish at the dugout stairs and he received congratulations from coaches and bench players in the dugout.
Darvish’s line wasn’t what he expected for his first outing: five runs on eight hits with four walks and five strikeouts. But considering he struggled in the first, Darvish battled back with his two-seamer in the latter innings and retired10 straight. And he will get his first win if the Rangers can hang on.
Darvish, who signed a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $56 million after the Rangers paid a $51.7 million posting fee this offseason, walked leadoff hitter Chone Figgins on four pitches and things didn’t get much better after that in a long first inning. Ichiro Suzuki and Justin Smoak had singles to load the bases and Kyle Seager’s single on a 1-2 fastball (95 mph) gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead. They added to it after Michael Saunders walked and Miguel Olivo hit an RBI single.
But it was after a four-pitch walk to Munenori Kawasaki, who played against Darvish for many seasons in Japan, that pitching coach Mike Maddux got long reliever Scott Feldman warming. The walk, with the bases loaded, gave Seattle a 4-0 lead. Darvish did get the next two batters to end the inning, but he needed 42 pitches and left the mound with a deficit.
He gave up another run in the second after surrendering two doubles.
It was rare to see Darvish have a rough start in Japan. The last time he gave up at least five runs was the season-opener in Japan in 2011, when he surrendered seven against Saitama on April 12. He gave up three runs or less in his remaining 27 starts.
Darvish also got to see first-hand that his new team is rarely out of a game. The Rangers’ deep lineup erased the four-run deficit by the time the third inning ended, thanks in large part to Nelson Cruz’s three-run homer, a rope down the left field line.
The long ball helped give the Rangers the lead, too, as Josh Hamilton hit one to straightaway center (his second in as many nights) and Mitch Moreland belted a two-run shot to right field for his first hit of 2012.