PEORIA, Ariz. – Yu Darvish pitched two scoreless innings in his first Cactus League start, getting three strikeouts and allowing two hits – both doubles.
Darvish pitched in front of about 100 media members and a couple of Rangers officials, including general manager Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan.
Darvish displayed his wide array of pitches, including a fastball at 92 to 95 mph on both sides of the plate. He threw an 80 mph curve (one of his harder curves, for those that don’t know) to get Carlos Quentin, the Padres’ cleanup hitter, to end the first inning.
Darvish threw an 84 mph slider with lots of movement to get Cameron Maybin swinging for a strikeout earlier in the inning. He ended his outing with a split-fingered fastball that John Baker couldn’t get, then walked off the mound. Several teammates congratulated him and it appeared catcher Yorvit Torrealba handed Darvish the baseball from his final strikeout of the inning. He ended up throwing 36 pitches, 26 of them strikes.
He did allow two doubles on pitches up in the zone. Orlando Hudson hit a double through the hole between first and second, but was left stranded at second in the first. Will Venable hit a 2-2 pitch high off the wall in center field for a leadoff double in the second. It would have been a home run had it not been hit to straightaway center.
Also, Darvish really showed his athleticism in the 2nd inning. He quickly got off the mound and raced to the first-base bag in plenty of time to receive Michael Young’s throw after Young made a nice diving play to take a hit away from Mark Kotsay. A few pitches later, Darvish leaped and snagged a high chopper off the bat of James Darnell, using all of his 6-foot-5 frame to get it. He then alertly threw home to eventually get Venable in a rundown. I will have more on this later.
Thomas Brunt covers the Texas Rangers and the Freshman Baseball team at Birdville High School. You could follow him on Twitter, but he won’t be tweeting until Easter Sunday, because he gave Twitter up for Lent.
More to come later.