Scooping the Rangers: Yu Darvish too much for Angels to handle

Scooping the Texas Rangers banner -- Yu Darvish

Mike Trout holds his bat in his hand with a strange look on his face after striking out against Yu Darvish.
Mike Trout reacts to Yu Darvish’s wicked curveball after being called out on strikes (see link below).

I remember all the speculation surrounding Yu Darvish and the possibility of him landing with the Texas Rangers.

We all watched the Yu Darvish videos and saw the kind of pitches he threw, but we all wondered if his talent in Japan would translate to the big leagues. There haven’t been a lot of Japanese pitchers who’ve had  success in the big leagues, especially one that came with this kind of hype.

The last big hype coming out of Japan was Daisuke Matsuzaka before he signed with the Boston Red Sox. We heard about the “gyro ball” and how it would be one of the most devastating pitches in the big leagues. The biggest difference, however, between Darvish and Matsuzaka was the number of pitches Darvish had in his bag of tricks. Some said he had as many as eight to nine different pitches while others counted between five and seven.

Now, in his second season, anyone who thought Yu Darvish’s ability wouldn’t translate to Major League Baseball has been proven wrong. In fact, not only did he get stronger during the second half of his rookie season, he has been nothing short of dominant thus far in his second season with the Rangers.

On Wednesday night, against the Los Angeles Angels, Yu Darvish made guys like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and other hitters look like they were Little League hitters facing Randy Johnson.

The only guy who looked more foolish than all the rest, and to no fault of his own, was poor Mike Trout. In the home half of the sixth, with Texas already leading 11-0, Darvish got ahead of Trout and had a one-ball, two-strike pitch coming up.

What happened next even brought oohs and aahs from the Anaheim crowd.

Yu Darvish had been firing fastballs that reached anywhere from 94 to 98 mph and a slider hitters just couldn’t lay off of. But, on a 1-2 pitch, Yu Darvish let loose with a 61 MPH, 12-to-6, curveball and the only thing Mike Trout could do was stand in the box and watch it land in A.J. Pierzynski’s glove for strike three.

Trout stood in the box for a few seconds and you could almost imagine this thought running through his mind, “what exactly was I supposed to do with that?”

Through five starts, Yu Darvish is 4-1 with a 1.65 ERA and is showing every bit of what an ace should look like. While Matt Harrison might have been the opening-day starter for this team, make no mistake that Yu Darvish is the number-one guy in the Rangers’ rotation.

Colby Lewis close to returning. According to reports, Colby Lewis is close to making his 2013 debut. He could be getting his rehab assignment sometime next week and, if all goes to plan, may be back in the Rangers’ rotation not long after that. If he’s 100 percent healthy, he will be a very welcome addition to an already strong pitching staff.

On tap. The Rangers are in Minnesota to begin the first of a four-game set on Thursday night. Nick Tepesch (1-1, 3.07 ERA) will take the ball for Texas and should be good to go after taking a line drive off his arm in his last start. While the cut on his arm is visible, Tepesch says he’s good to go.

The Rangers will have Justin Grimm (1-0, 2.70 ERA) in game two, followed by Derek Holland (1-1, 3.25 ERA) in game three and Alexi Ogando (2-1, 3.12 ERA) in the series finale.


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