When Sunday night's Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park was postponed, however, the subsequent adjustments to the Yankees' starting rotation set up what will be just the seventh matchup in Major League history between two Japanese starters. The Yankees will send right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to the mound on Tuesday night to square off against Yu Darvish and the Rangers.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi is hoping Kuroda doesn't get distracted by the thought of facing Darvish, whom the Rangers spent more than $111 million to sign this past offseason, including the posting fee. It seems as if Kuroda will be just fine.
"This is not a one-on-one game," Kuroda said, through a translator, when asked if facing Darvish would be a special matchup. "It's the Rangers against the Yankees. I'm going to do as much as possible so that our team is going to win."
Kuroda was also involved in the most recent such matchup, which came in 2010, when he was with the Dodgers. In that outing, Kuroda hurled eight shutout innings as the Dodgers defeated Hisanori Takahashi and the Mets, 2-0.
The other five matchups consisted of Kenshin Kawakami against Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2009, Matsuzaka against Tomo Ohka in '07, Ohka against Mac Suzuki in '02, Suzuki against Hideo Nomo in 2000 and Suzuki against Hideki Irabu in 1999.
In terms of prestige, though, this matchup looms much larger than any other. It pits the fifth-winningest Japanese pitcher in Major League history against perhaps the most-hyped hurler to come out of Japan.
"I expect him to have a good game," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Darvish, who is 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA through his first three big league starts. "This is his fourth time, and as I said, he gets better with each one. I expect him to have another good one. I don't think he's thinking about [the matchup]. He's thinking about keeping his team in the game. It could be an American pitcher."
Kuroda, meanwhile, will be looking to find some consistency. His ERA sits at 5.00 through three starts, despite eight shutout innings against the Angels in his second start, the Yankees' home opener. Kuroda sandwiched that outing between a pair of poor showings in which he allowed 10 earned runs combined in 10 innings.
With that in mind, Kuroda insists his focus rests solely on what he will be doing when he's the one toeing the rubber, not anyone else.
"I think he has everything that a starting pitcher has to have -- all the tools, the pitches, he's tough mentally and physically," Kuroda said of Darvish. "I'm aware that our team is going to be facing one of the greatest pitchers that Japan has produced, but my concern is to contribute as much as possible for our team to win."
Yankees: Pineda to undergo further examinations
The Yankees are hoping that a dye contrast MRI exam on Tuesday will provide some answers regarding right-hander Michael Pineda.
Pineda, on the disabled list retroactive to March 31, left an extended spring appearance early on Saturday after experiencing discomfort in his right shoulder.
"He's going to see the doctor [on Tuesday] and go through all his tests tomorrow," Girardi said before Monday's game, a 7-4 Yankees win. "At some point tomorrow evening, we should have something."
Outfielder Brett Gardner, on the disabled list with a right elbow strain, was slated to begin some running and throwing exercises on Monday. He's not expected to start hitting until at least Friday in New York.
Alex Rodriguez's home run off Derek Holland on Monday night marked his first hit off a left-handed pitcher this season. Rodriguez was 0-for-17 against southpaws prior to going yard against Holland.
Rangers: Beltre may return on Tuesday
It looks as if Adrian Beltre will avoid a stint on the disabled list and could return to Texas' lineup as soon as Tuesday, after an MRI exam on his left hamstring came back normal.
Beltre missed five weeks in the second half of last season with a strained left hamstring, but he said that won't be the case this time around.
"I feel good," Beltre said before Monday's game. "I was trying to fight my way into the lineup tonight, but I didn't fight hard enough. Maybe tomorrow."
Since 2002, the Yankees are the only American League team with a winning record against Texas at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers are just 14-26 at home against the Yanks during that span.
The Yankees are 6-1-1 in their last eight season series against the Rangers.