Unbeaten Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish improved to 4-0 in his first Major League Baseball season on Monday, striking out nine batters in seven innings for Texas in a 4-1 victory in Toronto.
The 25-year-old right-hander threw 62 of his 97 pitches for strikes and continued a progression of looking more impressive with every North American start as the Rangers improved to 17-6, the best mark in the major leagues.
“The biggest thing is just getting used to the atmosphere of being in the major leagues,” Darvish said through a translator. “There’s just a comfort, a feeling better, that has made me able to get better.”
The Rangers, who lead the American League West division by six games over Seattle after the first month of the six-month regular season, spent US$107.7 million to obtain Darvish from the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Darvish, a two-time Japan League Most Valuable Player, signed a six-year deal with Texas for US$56 million and the rest of the money went to the Hokkaido-based Fighters just for the right to negotiate with Darvish.
Darvish made five starts before allowing his first North American home run, giving up a round-trip blast to the Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion in the fourth inning, but the Japanese ace allowed only four hits over seven innings.
“I’m certainly impressed with his work ethic,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Darvish. “I’m impressed with the way he fits in my clubhouse. I’m impressed with the way he interacts with his teammates. I’m impressed by how quick he makes adjustments on the fly.”
Darvish has a 2.18 earned-run average, which is not bad for a pitcher who surrendered five runs in the first two innings of his Rangers career only three weeks earlier.
“I’ve been impressed with his stuff,” Washington said. “He can sink it, he can run it, he can hop it, he can slow it down, he can make it quick, he can cut it, split it — he can do everything with the baseball. It’s just a matter of using that stuff at the proper time.”
YANKEES 2, ORIOLES 1
In New York, Hiroki Kuroda pitched seven neat innings and combined with catcher Russell Martin to nab Nick Markakis at the plate in the key play of the game, lifting the Yankees over Baltimore.
Eric Chavez hit an early two-run homer as the Yankees beat Baltimore once again. They are 4-0 against the Orioles this year, 43-15 over the O’s since 2009 and have not lost any of the past 14 season series against them.
The loss denied Buck Showalter his 1,000th win as a major league manager — his first victory came in 1992 next door at the old Yankee Stadium. Baltimore lost for the second time in eight games.
New York made several sparkling plays in the field, including two by novice left fielder Eduardo Nunez.
Kuroda (2-3) allowed one run and four hits while outpitching steady Jason Hammel (3-1).
David Robertson struck out the side in the eighth for the Yankees and Mariano Rivera closed for his fifth save in six chances.
RED SOX 11, ATHLETICS 6
In Boston, David Ortiz finished the best month of his career with a pair of solo homers and Mike Aviles hit a three-run shot in Boston’s victory over Oakland.
Darnell McDonald had a two-run homer and Marlon Byrd drove in a pair of runs to support Clay Buchholz (3-1), who held Oakland to one run until he gave up five in the seventh inning.
Ortiz hit .405 last month with six homers and 20 RBIs. He batted .543 at Fenway Park (19 for 35).