ARLINGTON, Texas – Yu Darvish is ready for the regular season to begin.
Darvish threw four solid innings in his final tuneup of the preseason and the Texas Rangers hit four home runs to beat the Mexico City Red Devils 12-1 in an exhibition game Thursday night.
Darvish mowed down the Mexican League team, allowing just one hit while striking out seven. The Japanese star threw 42 of 52 pitches for strikes and the only hit he gave up was a blooper by Jesus Lopez in the fourth inning that barely made it out of the infield.
"I felt really comfortable out there today and I had really good control," Darvish said through an interpreter. "I feel very comfortable going into the season. I think I'm ready."
The 26-year-old right-hander, entering his second major league season following an outstanding 16-9 rookie year, completed his preseason with a 2-1 record, a 1.52 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings. Opposing batters hit just .138 off him.
"He was outstanding," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He started the spring off throwing the ball well and did it again tonight, had good zip on his fastball, had nice cutter work and sinker, really pounded the zone."
Washington noted that Darvish, who is expected to start the Rangers' second regular season game Tuesday in Houston, seems a much more confident pitcher heading into his second season than he did when he first came over from Japan a year ago.
"I see a more relaxed Darvish," Washington said. "I think the success he had down the stretch last year, he recognized the things he needed to do to be successful. He's gained some experience. I think he's more aware of what he can do better and he's just going out there and doing it."
Darvish agrees: "I think it is a big difference between last year and this year, I'm more relaxed this time around compared to last year."
Ian Kinsler, David Murphy, Nelson Cruz and Mitch Moreland each homered for the Rangers, who got at least one hit or a run scored out of all their starters. By the sixth inning and with an 11-0 lead, all the Texas starters had left the game.
"It was a fun game," said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who went 1-for-2 with a run scored. "We swung the bats, got some hits, hit some homers — it was just fun to be out there, fun to be in front of the home crowd for the first time and hopefully it got people excited about Rangers baseball."
Former major leaguer Ben Broussard, who spent 2008 with the Rangers, drilled a home run to right field off Texas reliever Joe Ortiz in the seventh inning for Mexico City's only run.
The Rangers close their spring training schedule with a two-game series against San Diego at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Friday and Saturday before Sunday's season opener in Houston.
NOTES: The Rangers announced that Ortiz and RHP Tanner Scheppers had secured roster spots in the bullpen. Ortiz, a 22-year-old LHP who split last season between Texas affiliates Frisco (Double-A) and Round Rock (Triple-A), enjoyed an outstanding spring, allowing just nine hits and two runs in 13 innings. Scheppers, 26, spent most of 2012 with Texas, making 39 appearances and recording a 4.45 ERA in 32.1 innings pitched. ... Texas has one more roster spot open, which comes down to a decision between OF Julio Borbon, who hit .304 at Round Rock last season, and a reliever, either RHP Josh Lindblom or RHP Cory Burns.