Yu Darvish tries to keep his perfect record intact this evening when the Texas Rangers start a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Darvish has lived up to the hype early on, posting a 3-0 mark to go along with a 2.42 earned run average in four starts. He enters tonight's tilt on the heels of his most impressive outing, a win over the New York Yankees that saw him scatter seven hits over 8 1/3 scoreless innings. He also struck out 10 and has fanned 24 batters in 26 innings.
This, of course, will be his first start against the Jays, a team that had been linked to the Japanese superstar before he was awarded to the Rangers.
"Every team is different," Darvish said recently. "The umpires are different, and the strike zone is different. It also depends on the ballpark. Every ballpark right now is a first time for me. I have to experience everything. I'm not just learning the players. I'm understanding the atmosphere and I'm able to control my emotions."
Texas ran into some trouble this weekend, dropping two of three at home to the Tampa Bay Rays, including Sunday's 5-2 setback that denied it its seventh straight series win to start the year.
The Rangers had won 12 straight series dating back to last year's regular season.
Derek Holland (2-2) allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out eight over seven innings to suffer the loss.
Also, Josh Hamilton was forced to leave the game in the third inning with a stiff back. After the game, though, the former AL MVP didn't seem too concerned, but he is questionable for tonight's opener.
"I've had it happen before," Hamilton said of the back stiffness. "Very rarely, but it has happened before. It usually takes about 12 hours and then it releases so I don't expect it to effect anything tomorrow."
Toronto, meanwhile, won its second straight game on Sunday, as Henderson Alvarez tossed six-plus solid innings to help the Blue Jays get past Seattle, 7-2, in the rubber match of a three-game set at Rogers Centre.
Alvarez (1-2) allowed just one run on six hits and three walks while striking out one. Evan Crawford, Casey Janssen and Francisco Cordero finished out the game for the Blue Jays, who had dropped four in a row prior to winning the last two against the Mariners..
Jeff Mathis cracked a two-run homer, Edwin Encarnacion added a solo shot and Brett Lawrie contributed a two-run double. Kelly Johnson also added a run batted in for the Jays.
"He did well," Mathis said of Alvarez's effort. "He threw his sinker and kept it down in the zone and got a lot of ground ball outs and early outs."
Heading to the hill for the Jays tonight will be righty Kyle Drabek, who is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA. Drabek suffered his first loss of the season on Wednesday in Baltimore, as the Orioles tagged him for two runs and five hits in six innings of a 3-0 shutout.
Drabek beat the Rangers the only other time he faced them.