The Texas Rangers finally got a long-awaited look at Yu Darvish over the weekend, and they seem to feel more comfortable that their top-end of the rotation pitcher is back.
Darvish hopes to continue settling in after a long layoff when he takes the mound in Friday night's series opener against the visiting Seattle Mariners.
The AL West leaders split the opening six games of this season's series, but Texas (31-22) and Darvish will face a lineup that is rolling. Seattle (31-22) piled up 54 hits and 47 runs while taking three of four from San Diego.
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The Mariners are coming off one of the most remarkable wins in franchise history, erasing a 10-run deficit en route to a wild 16-13 victory over the Padres on Thursday. Kyle Seager went 3 for 5 with five RBIs, while Nelson Cruz and Dao-Ho Lee homered to help Seattle score 16 for the second time in three games.
Seager is 15 for 25 with 11 RBIs during a six-game hitting streak, and has had some success against Darvish. He's 7 for 22 with four doubles.
Darvish (1-0, 1.80 ERA) struck out seven and allowed a run and three hits in five innings of Saturday's 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. The right-hander threw 81 pitches in his return from last year's Tommy John surgery.
''Physically I felt I could go more innings, but mentally I was like 'I'm done here,''' Darvish said through an interpreter. ''(Saturday) I was heating it up pretty good so I felt pretty good.''
Cole Hamels, Colby Lewis and Martin Perez have carried Texas' staff through the season's opening two months, but Darvish should provide another quality arm in the mix.
Texas manager Jeff Banister had only seen Darvish once in the majors before Saturday, as a bench coach with Pittsburgh in September 2013.
''It's still as electric, explosive as I remember it,'' Banister said. ''The stuff, when you look at the hitters, and you watch the expressions and their reactions, you can tell the stuff was electric. Just as impressive tonight as it was back then.''
Darvish struggled to a 4.47 ERA in eight career starts against the Mariners from 2012-14, going 3-3. However, he went 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his last five.
Adam Lind (5 for 11) and Seth Smith (5 for 13, three doubles) have seen him well.
The Mariners will counter with Taijuan Walker, who hopes June brings him far better luck than May did.
The 23-year-old went 0-5 in six May starts with a 4.91 ERA. He has given up nine home runs in his last five outings.
Walker (2-5, 3.31) opened the season 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his first four starts but hasn't won since April 25. Run support and defensive issues weighed him down in May, but his latest loss fell on his shoulders.
Walker, who gets only 2.82 runs of support per nine innings, saw his ERA jump 0.61 points when he gave up five runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings of Sunday's 5-4 loss to Minnesota. He matched a career high with three home runs allowed while walking two and hitting a batter.
''I tried to sneak a couple offspeed pitches by them and they got them,'' Walker said.
Walker's strong opening month included six strong innings in a 4-2 win over Texas on April 13. He permitted one run and five hits, lowering his ERA to 3.68 in four career starts against them.
Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder are each 5 for 11 against Walker, while one of Mitch Moreland's two hits in 10 at-bats in the matchup was a homer.