In his best start yet, Darvish went 8 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out 10 and allowing seven hits and two walks to outduel Kuroda in a 2-0 Rangers win.
“After my last start, I mentioned my command is starting to come together. Stuff-wise, there wasn’t much difference,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “I still like to think that there’s still more in me.”
Darvish (3-0) has steadily improved in each of his four starts, but control had been an issue in his previous three. After walking at least four hitters in his first three starts, Darvish cut that number in half on Tuesday while surpassing his previous season-high of 6 1/3 innings. He threw 82 of his 119 pitches for strikes and recorded 12 ground ball outs.
“He just keeps getting better every time he takes the ball,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Tonight, he used everything he had, and he was effective, very effective. He’s getting more comfortable. He was pounding the strike zone. That’s what you have to do against that team. He threw everything but the kitchen sink at them.”
In the third inning, Darvish failed to field a Derek Jeter bunt, which loaded the bases with no outs. He then proceeded to strike out Curtis Granderson looking and induced an inning-ending double-play from Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees never truly threatened the rest of the way.
For his part, Kuroda was nearly as good in a rare MLB matchup of Japanese starters. Despite the two earned runs, he allowed five hits and two walks while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings. It was a bounce-back game for the 37-year-old righty who gave up six runs in 4 1/3 in his previous start. But Darvish was the star of the night.
Now the question is, how much better can he be?
“If it gets better than that, we are certainly in for something special the rest of the year,” Washington told the Dallas Morning News. “Tonight he used everything he had, and he needed it.”