Hiroki Kuroda was impressive on the mound for the New York Yankees.
Only problem for the Bronx Bombers was that Kuroda’s fellow countryman, Yu Darvish, was even better pitching for the Texas Rangers.
Darvish is getting better every start and may be getting to a point where he will have a hard time topping himself, after striking out 10 and pitching into the ninth inning of a 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
”You hear a lot of guys get hyped and he was everything that you’d heard,” Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. ”We had a game plan to make him throw strikes, and he definitely did that. If you tried to be patient you’re down 0-1, 0-2. If you tried to be aggressive every pitch seemed like it started in the zone, then moved out of the zone.”
Over their previous eight games, the Yankees had hit .380 with seven doubles, four home runs and 43 RBI with runners in scoring position.
They loaded the bases with no outs in the third against Darvish without scoring. Then after Robinson Cano’s leadoff double an inning later, the 25-year-old right-hander in only his fourth major league start needed only seven pitches to get two strikeouts and a groundout.
”We wasted a good start,” Teixeira said. ”Yu pitched well, but Kuroda pitched really, really well, too.”
Ian Kinsler put the Rangers ahead to stay when he led off the first with a deep homer to left center off Kuroda (1-3), who limited Texas to two runs and five hits over 6 2-3 innings.
The 37-year-old Kuroda, a righty in his fifth season in the majors, struck out five and walked one. Of the Rangers other 15 outs against him, 12 came on grounders and there were two popups.
But Darvish (3-0) had the longest scoreless outing by a Rangers pitcher against New York since Bob Tewksbury’s complete game shutout in July 1995.
In only the seventh-ever MLB matchup of Japanese starters, he got through 8 1-3 scoreless innings even while allowing seven hits.
Effective with his large array of pitches, including a fastball in the upper 90s and several biting breaking balls, Darvish had a season-low two walks, and the 10 strikeouts were the most by a Texas pitcher this season.
”He just keeps getting better every time he takes the ball. Tonight, he used everything he had, and he was effective, very effective. He’s getting more and more comfortable,” manager Ron Washington said. ”He was pounding the strike zone. That’s what you have to do against that team. He threw everything but the kitchen sink at them.”
Washington was going to give him a chance to finish the game but pulled Darvish after Nick Swisher’s one-out single on his 119th pitch, his 82nd strike.
Joe Nathan needed only one pitch to coax a game-ending double-play grounder by Raul Ibanez. It was his fifth save in six chances, closing out the Rangers’ first shutout victory over the Yankees since Aug. 16, 2000.
The Yankees had the bases loaded in the third after Derek Jeter reached on a bunt single. Darvish initially failed to field the ball, apparently expecting someone else to get it.
But Darvish then got Curtis Granderson out on a called third strike before Alex Rodriguez grounded into an inning-ending double play.
”He had a full head of steam after that,” Rangers designated hitter Michael Young said.
”In that situation I thought to myself, this inning giving up one run or two runs, that was OK,” he said. ”Somehow I have to get Curtis Granderson out. … Somehow, I just wanted (Rodriguez) to hit the ball on the ground.”
After Cano’s leadoff double in the fourth, Darvish needed only seven pitches to get out of that inning. Teixeira and Swisher both struck out swinging on three pitches before Ibanez grounded out on the first pitch he saw.
Darvish struck out the side in the seventh, getting Jeter on a called strike for the third out.
”He’s good. You have to give credit to the way he pitched,” Cano said. ”He didn’t miss any pitch over the plate.”
Notes: The last matchup of Japanese-born starters was July 22, 2010, when Kuroda threw eight scoreless innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 2-0 win over the Mets and Hisanori Takahashi. … Jeter extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Granderson has reached base in 16 straight games. … Kinsler’s fifth homer of the season extended his team record of leadoff homers to 21. … Josh Hamilton had an RBI single in the third. That was a pitch after he lost control of his bat, which helicoptered and landed in fight field while Elvis Andrus stole second base. … Yankees RHP Phil Hughes is scheduled Wednesday night to make his first start at Rangers Ballpark since May 25, 2009, when he allowed only three hits in a career-high-tying eight scoreless innings. … RHP Scott Feldman, who has lost four of his last five decisions at Rangers Ballpark, pitches the series finale for Texas.