video thumbnail

NYY@TEX: Kuroda strong over 6 2/3 in tough loss

ARLINGTON -- It didn't take long for the chatter to work its way up and down the Yankees' bench on Tuesday. The hype is well-deserved, the visitors were saying at Rangers Ballpark, and Yu Darvish seems to be for real.

That was the only reasonable impression the Yankees could take away after the touted rookie spun a gem in New York's 2-0 loss to the Rangers, pitching into the ninth inning and striking out 10 batters.

"He was good," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. "You hear a lot of guys get hyped, and he was everything that you'd heard. I can't say enough. He pitched really well tonight."

Keeping the Yankees off balance with what Nick Swisher called a "kitchen sink" repertoire, Darvish outpitched Japanese countryman Hiroki Kuroda, stifling the Bombers over 8 1/3 frames. Joe Nathan threw one pitch to induce a game-ending double play for his fifth save.

The start was the finest of four big league outings thus far for Darvish (3-0), who scattered seven hits and walked two as he looks to prove the Rangers were wise to wager more than $111 million that his services would translate to the American League.

"We didn't really know what to expect," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "It's a challenge any time you face someone the first time. But he had a fastball, two-seamer, cutter, four-seamer, curveball, slider, change, split. He's got pretty much everything, and he pitched ahead in the count most of the game."

Unable to score against Darvish -- most notably turned aside from a bases-loaded, none-out opportunity in the third inning -- the Yankees felt they wasted a good performance from Kuroda.

Matched up in just the seventh head-to-head meeting of Japanese starters in Major League history, Kuroda (1-3) held his own, limiting Texas to two runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Ian Kinsler slugged a leadoff home run to give Darvish and the Rangers the only run they needed, and Josh Hamilton made Kuroda pay for a two-out walk to Elvis Andrus by smacking an RBI single in the third.

That put the Yankees down by two, but the way Darvish was spinning, it felt like much more.

"I was disappointed that I didn't get a win, but I tried my best and tried to keep the game close," Kuroda said. "Hopefully, the next time I pitch I will get a win."

Kuroda had never pitched against Darvish before, as Kuroda had just three career starts against Darvish's Nippon Ham Fighters. He said that he watched nearly all of Darvish's effort from the dugout bench.

"If you put zeroes on the board, with the lineup we have, obviously, he's a great pitcher," Kuroda said.

There had been some speculation that the Yankees, not the Rangers, could be Darvish's landing spot, but the Bombers were never serious contenders. New York's posting-fee bid of $15 million proved to be well short of the $51.7 million that Texas wagered, plus Darvish's $60 million contract.

Time will tell how that works out for club president Nolan Ryan and the Rangers, but at least the early returns look promising. The Yankees had their best shot in the third inning, loading the bases with no outs on a Jeter bunt single.

Darvish responded to the challenge by striking out Curtis Granderson looking at a slider, then inducing Alex Rodriguez to ground to third base for an easy double play.

"In that situation, I'm thinking about giving up one or two runs, but I have to get Curtis Granderson out," Darvish said. "One or two runs are OK. I was able to get strikeouts tonight when I wanted them and ground balls when I needed them. With Rodriguez, I wanted to get him to hit the ball on the ground, so I threw back-to-back sliders and he did."

Darvish's deep repertoire kept the Yankees guessing, as all but two batters -- Robinson Cano and Russell Martin -- struck out at least once in the contest.

"We all ask each other, 'What was that pitch?'" Martin said. "'How is his ball moving?' 'What is his fastball doing?' When guys are executing pitches and not really giving you anything to drive, there's not much you can do."

Jeter singled and doubled in the defeat, keeping a 14-game hit streak alive as his average climbed to .416. For the rest of the club, the Yankees had a tough time coming up with any comparisons for what they'd seen.

"Anybody who throws that many pitches?" Cano said. "I don't remember anybody who throws that many pitches."

Swisher shrugged off the defeat, saying with a grin, "We'll be ready for him next time."

While the Yankees were deservedly complimentary of Darvish, they are also encouraged about how Kuroda handled the tough Texas lineup after turning in one sharp effort and two subpar outings to date.

"I told him, 'We can do that all year long, and we'll be just fine,'" Martin said.

MLB.com Comments