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NYY@TEX: Darvish dominant, shuts out Yanks over 8 1/3

Yu Darvish is coming to Toronto, but not in the way many expected.

The Japanese right-hander will start for the Rangers on Monday night when the club opens a three-game series against Kyle Drabek and the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The outing comes a little more than four months after Texas' bid of $51.7 million won a secret auction for negotiating rights with the former Nippon Professional Baseball League star.

A barrage of rumors leading up to the conclusion of the bidding process linked the Blue Jays to Darvish. Some erroneous reports in the final days even claimed that Toronto had submitted the high offer.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos never has confirmed nor denied whether his club made a bid. In fact, his policy is never to comment on interest in free agents, and Anthopoulos said he has "just become numb" to rumors appearing in the media.

"I just accept it," he said. "This is just part of the way we do things. These are the unfortunate things that are going to happen. There are other components that I'm trying to work through, as well, from a strategy standpoint -- negotiations, trades. We read what every other club is quoted as saying. We try to use that to our advantage. I think clubs do the same with us."

Other teams apparently believed the Blue Jays were targeting Darvish.

"I had a GM ask me about the Darvish scenario before it was done," Anthopoulos said. "I said I don't see us being really big on free agents, fitting everything into our payroll and so on. I think the comment was, 'You're a worse sandbagger than I am.' I'm not sandbagging. That's just the way it is."

Darvish has started 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in his first four outings and is coming off his best effort on Tuesday against the Yankees. Pitching in Texas, he threw 8 1/3 shutout innings, allowing seven hits and two walks while striking out 10.

"It depends on the team," Darvish said of his game-to-game adjustments. "Every team is different. The umpires are different, and the strike zone is different. It also depends on the ballpark. Every ballpark right now is a first time for me. I have to experience everything. I'm not just learning the players. I'm understanding the atmosphere and I'm able to control my emotions."

True to form, Anthopoulos wouldn't reveal much about his early impressions of Darvish.

"It's early. We're not really scouting him. He's not a guy I expect to be available in trades," he said with a smile. "I've just seen the highlights and you see the stats like everyone else. Sounds like he had an unbelievable game against New York.

"But other than that, it's just three weeks into the season, four weeks into the season, the same way if you were to ask me about Albert Pujols. We're just not really scouting him now."

Rangers: A hot April for Hamilton
• Through Sunday, outfielder Josh Hamilton had slugged nine home runs, tying a club record for April, previously set by four other players. Ian Kinsler was the last, in 2007.

With a game remaining to take the record for himself, Hamilton was leading the American League in home runs and RBIs (25). But after encountering back stiffness during Sunday's game, he may not get the opportunity.

• Nelson Cruz's 2012 has been much quieter. The outfielder was stuck in a 3-for-23 skid through Saturday and went 2-for-4 on Sunday, raising his average to .247. Cruz has hit one home run and driven in six since April 9.

Blue Jays: Drabek bouncing back
• The rebound from a rough 2011 continued on Wednesday for Drabek, who took the loss in Baltimore, but still held the Orioles to two runs on five hits in six innings.

After posting a 6.06 ERA in the Majors and a 7.44 mark at Triple-A Las Vegas last season, Drabek has limited the opposition to two earned runs or fewer in all four of his 2012 starts.

But while he has surrendered 18 hits in 24 innings, his strikeout-to-walk ratio is only 18-to-13. With Toronto last season, Drabek walked more batters than he struck out.

• Blue Jays starters have lasted at least five innings in 24 consecutive outings, going back to Sept. 27 of last season. That's the team's longest streak since a 27-start run in 2007 and the second-longest current streak in the Majors behind the White Sox (27).

Worth noting
• Drabek has made one career start against the Rangers -- last April 25 in Texas. He gave up three earned runs on five hits in six innings to pick up the win.

• The Rangers are in the middle of a 25-game stretch against non-division opponents. Their next AL West contest is against the Angels on May 11.

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