Yu Darvish continued to repay his big-money signing when he outdueled Hiroki Kuroda in an impressive showdown between Japanese pitchers as the Rangers beat the New York Yankees 2-0 in Texas on Tuesday.
Darvish baffled his opponents with pinpoint control of an impressive array of pitches, from a lively fastball to a diving curve and deceptive change-up, continually changing speeds to keep the Yankees off-balance and improve to 3-0 on the season.
The 25-year-old, who signed a six-year, $60 million deal after Texas won negotiating rights with a $51.7 million posting bid to the Nippon-Ham Fighters, gave up seven hits in eight and one-third innings with 10 strikeouts and just two walks.
Darvish was removed from the mound after giving up a one-out single to Nick Swisher in the ninth inning and received a standing ovation from the home crowd in Arlington.
Closer Joe Nathan promptly cashed in the final two outs with one pitch as he induced Raul Ibanez to bounce into a game-ending double play to help the Rangers improve to 14-4.
Putting on his best display since his arrival in the major leagues, Darvish did well to dodge one New York threat in the third.
After Derek Jeter's perfect bunt loaded the bases with no one out, the Texas pitcher froze Curtis Granderson with a tantalizing curve ball for a called strike three and then enticed Alex Rodriguez to ground into a double play.
While Darvish remained unbeaten on the season for the two-time reigning American League champions, Kuroda dropped to 1-3 with the loss despite a strong showing.
The veteran right-hander gave up a lead-off home run to Ian Kinsler to start the game and an RBI-single by Josh Hamilton in the third inning.
Kuroda went six and two-thirds innings, giving up five hits and two walks, while striking out five. However, the Yankees (10-7) were unable to back him up with their bats as they lost for the first time in five outings.
(Reporting By Larry Fine in New York; Editing by John O'Brien)