video thumbnail

Darvish pitches 5 2/3 innings in MLB debut

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said Yu Darvish was not in danger of an embarrassing early exit on Monday night.

"I wasn't going to snatch him in the first inning," Washington said. "I was going to let him battle through it, and he did."

It truly looked like a battle that Darvish was going to lose, and Washington did have Scott Feldman warming up in the bullpen in the first inning. But Darvish, despite giving up four runs, was able to get out of that inning and ended up as the winning pitcher in his Major League debut after the Rangers rallied for an 11-5 victory over the Mariners at Rangers Ballpark.

Darvish made it through 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, four walks and one hit batter while striking out five. Darvish is the first pitcher since the Indians' Jaret Wright in 1997 to win his Major League debut despite allowing five-plus runs and three-plus walks.

"Today, when I stepped on the mound for the first time, I was very calm," Darvish said. "I felt very calm mentally, but my body felt like it wanted to go and go and go. My mind and my body were not on the same page. All my pitches I had a hard time commanding. It was more of a mental battle. I just tried to stay in there and battle."

He did and the Rangers rallied behind him. They trailed, 5-2, into the third before Nelson Cruz tied it with a three-run home run. A two-run home run by Mitch Moreland and a solo home run by Josh Hamilton gave the Rangers the lead in the fourth, and Ian Kinsler added a three-run shot in the eighth.

"Incredible," Darvish said after witnessing firsthand the Rangers' offensive firepower. "Just watching it was incredible."

When it was over, he jokingly said he was mainly concerned about catcher Mike Napoli.

"I threw so many one-hoppers to Napoli, I'm sure his body is beaten up," Darvish said. "More than anything, I'm worried about his health."

Napoli, who wore a "Yu Darvish is My Homeboy" T-shirt to his postgame news conference, said, "It's good. I'm a little sore, but it's good."

As for Darvish, Napoli said, "That's a big league pitcher. To not have his good stuff and to be able to battle through it, hats off to him. That's a big league pitcher."

Darvish insisted he was not worried about getting pulled in the first inning.

"Not really," he said. "I knew it was a rough first inning, but that didn't go through my mind. I knew I was able to turn it around."

Darvish began his night by walking Chone Figgins on four pitches. He struck out Dustin Ackley, but Ichiro Suzuki lifted a high pop into shallow left just beyond the reach of third baseman Adrian Beltre.

The ball fell for a single, Justin Smoak singled sharply to right to load the bases and Kyle Seager singled to center to drive home two runs. A walk to Michael Saunders reloaded the bases, Miguel Olivo singled softly to right to score another run and Munenori Kawasaki walked to force home the fourth run of the inning.

"We were just trying to get strike one," Napoli said. "When he gets strike one, he can do anything he wants. He just kind of struggled with his command."

Darvish, with Feldman warming up in the bullpen, then got out of the inning by striking out Brendan Ryan and getting Figgins on a grounder to third. Darvish ended up throwing 42 pitches in the first inning.

"It just seemed like he couldn't get a hold of his emotions," Washington said. "He was really amped up, but he showed what kind of battler and warrior he is. Nobody thought he would be pitching into the sixth inning, but he did. We did a good job of supporting him and he did a good job of supporting us. That game could have gotten out of hand but it didn't. He battled."

Darvish, after RBI singles from Cruz and Michael Young in the bottom of the first, gave up another run in the top of the second on a one-out double by Ichiro and a two-out double by Seager. But Darvish then proceeded to retire 13 of the next 15 batters he faced, including 11 in a row.

That streak ended when he walked Ackley and gave up another single to Ichiro with two outs in the sixth. That's when Washington did pull him. Alexi Ogando struck out Smoak to end the inning after Darvish walked off to a standing ovation from an announced crowd of 42,003.

Darvish didn't acknowledge the applause by tipping his cap but said he didn't realize he was supposed to do that.

"I guess we'll teach him that," Napoli said.

"It was not like I had an outing that I could be proud of but I had people standing up and applauding," said Darvish. "It was awesome. The more I pitch over here, the better I feel but throughout the game the fans were very supportive and I felt very good."

MLB.com Comments