Apr 202012
 

Friday Morning KnuckleballsIt’s starting to sink in.  At first, during the off-season following the club first World Series appearance, it seemed like a temporary strength of this team that would flee to Philadelphia with Cliff Lee.  Then, throughout 2011, it seemed like the timing was just right and everyone was clicking at the same time.  Now, it’s sinking it.  Starting pitching is a true strength for this team, and will be for the foreseeable future based on the makeup of the current staff and the pipeline, both on the current roster (Ogando, Feldman, Ross) and in the minors (Perez, Ramirez, Buckel, Mendez, etc.).

“Starting pitching is, for sure,” Kinsler said when asked what was most gratifying about the Rangers current stretch. “The way they have been throwing has been outstanding. They have been keeping us in the game, 1-5, and the bullpen has been lights out.”

To put some numbers behind Kinsler’s statement, Rangers starters are now 9-0 with a 2.37 ERA over the first 13 games of the season.  According to T.R. Sullivan (MLB.com), “That’s the longest winning streak by an American League rotation to start the season since the Yankees’ starters won 16 straight decisions to open 2003.”

Friday Morning KnuckleballsYu Darvish took a big step last night in his performance on the road against a top tier offense, quieting the bats of the Detroit Tigers to the tune of 1 run on 2 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 5 over 6 1/3.

“He made another step forward,” Manager Ron Washington said. “It’s been that process since he got here and he did a great job tonight using all his pitches. He used his fastball well and threw his breaking ball in every count. I wish he had gotten through seven, but he did a great job. He really did.”

“He’s very good,” Tiger slugger Miguel Cabrera said. “He mixed his pitches very good — fastball, breaking ball, slider. I think he threw a couple changeups today. He did a very good job to stop our offense today. Today, he was very good. I think he’s only going to get better.”

“I know that if I battle and keep the team close in the game, the offense is going to come through for me,” Darvish said. “The biggest improvement was the consistency of my command. I feel close to where I want to be. I think I threw more quality strikes tonight.”

The Rangers provided run support for Darvish right off the bat, jumping to a 1-0 lead in the first inning and adding support in the 2nd, 5th and 6th, before putting the game away with a 5 run 8th.

“Well, sometimes it just isn’t your day,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That pretty much sums it up. We just couldn’t stop them. When they hit it hard, it was a hit, when they didn’t hit it hard, it was a hit. It’s one of those nights. We just got beat up.”

3 more games to go in this series, so it’s far from over, but last night was a big step in more ways than one.

Oh yeah, the offense was once again ridiculous with Napoli hitting another bomb and Kinsler, Cruz and Young all accumulating 3 hits apiece.  Let’s not take it for granted.

Quick hits:

  •  Matt Harrison takes the mound tonight, looking to continue his hot start to the season (2-0, 0.64 ERA).  He’ll face off with another young talented pitcher in Rick Porcello who has started strong (1-0, 1.84 ERA).  First pitch – 6:05 Texas Time.
  • Harrison  has not faired well so far in his career against the Tigers, posting a 1-4 record with a 6+ ERA.  This shouldn’t be too big of a concern considering that Harrison has matured into the pitcher that he is only recently.
  • Moreland and Murphy will both be back in the line-up tonight against the right-handed Porcello.  Murphy is 7-for-9 in his career with a home run against Porcello.
  • Per Sullivan (MLB.com), “With two more wins this series, the Rangers would win their fifth straight series to start the season for just the second time in team history. The 1989 club — also the only other Rangers squad to start 11-2 — did so as well.”
  • Pudge retires at the Ballpark on Monday before the game against the Yankees.  We’ll have more on that over the weekend, and we’ll be recording our podcast immediately following the ceremony with lots of good discussion about one of the greatest Rangers ever.

Have a good weekend!

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Apr 182012
 

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“The ball was carrying pretty good tonight.” – Josh Hamilton

At some point last night, I just laughed.  I wasn’t laughing at the Red Sox, but rather it was a joyful laugh…an emotion that could only come from pride in just how good this team is.  I just laughed….at how ridiculously talented this line-up is from top to bottom, even with it’s interchangeable parts.  I just laughed…as Colby settled in after giving up a first inning 2-run shot to Dustin Pedroia.  I just laughed…as Ranger Nation was in full force on Twitter, watching an offensive explosion in fellowship and celebrating with each run.  I couldn’t help myself…I just laughed.

If your reading this, more than likely you were watching that.  If not, just know that in game 11 of 162 in 2012, the Rangers looked like an All-Star team…on the road…against at quality opponent.

Wednesday Morning CurveballsOn our last podcast, Jasen and I talked about the depth of this team, and how you can have players like Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli slumping and it’s offset by players like Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler surging (insert any of the core names in this scenario).  Last night, everyone was surging, and hopefully the surge will carry over through the remainder of this road trip (next stop Motown after wrapping short series with BoSox tonight) and beyond.

18 runs on 21 hits with 3 doubles and 6 home runs.  Every Rangers player that got an AB, got a hit with the exception of Alberto Gonzalez who came into the game for Kinsler, after Kins had gotten 5 ABs.  Boston Ace Jon Lester gave up 7 over 2 IP.  New acquired Red Sox relieve Mark Melancon gave up 6 without recording an out (an ERA killer!!).  Meanwhile, Colby Lewis gave up 2 runs on 8 hits and no walks over 7 IP, while striking out 7 batters and making the Red Sox lineup look foolish on many occasions.   It was a slaughter.

It’s fun to watch and fun to rehash, but today is a new day, and the Rangers have to take care of business again tonight against that same Red Sox team they embarrassed last night.

Wednesday Morning Curveballs“I’m just finding holes,” Hamilton said. “I don’t feel great. The home run felt good, the others I just kind of rolled over and found holes. I’m getting there. My timing is still early. I’m getting away with some things. I want to continue to improve.”

“I’m getting close,” Cruz said. “I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m seeing the ball better and my timing is there.”

“I’m definitely feeling better,” Napoli said. “I have been in the cage trying to iron it out. It feels good to put some swings into it and barrel up the ball. I just want to do it for a full game.”

These statements can’t make opposing pitchers feel good…

Quick hits:

  • The Rangers are officially splitting up Holland and Harrison in the rotation.  The day off on Monday afforded them the opportunity to flip-flop Harrison and Darvish in the rotation and they are taking advantage of it.  According to Wash, it has more to do with Yu then splitting the lefties.

“We wanted to keep Darvish pitching on four days’ rest,” Washington said. “He pitched, what, once a week in Japan? We want him to get used to four days down and then pitching on the fifth day. It just so happens to split the left-handers.”

  • Moreland returned to the team last night in Boston after battling oral issues.

“I’m so much better. It was a rough few days,” Moreland said. “I probably got five hours sleep total in two days, but I feel 100 percent better. I slept great last night.”

  • The Rangers will have 3 of the first 53 picks in the upcoming MLB Amateur Draft.  The Rangers will have the 29th overall pick in the first round. They will also have two picks in the compensation round, including the 39th overall pick as compensation for C.J. Wilson signing with the Angels and the 53rd pick for Darren Oliver signing with the Blue Jays.
  • Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com) covers the draft order in more depth.
  • Michael Young left in the 8th inning last night with back stiffness.  It’s not expected to be serious.

“He’ll be fine,” manager Ron Washington said. “He was just a little stiff so we got him out of there. We had the lead there. He’ll be in there Wednesday.”

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Apr 172012
 

Podcast Episode 14: Rangers start strong & early season surprises!

The Rangers are 8 – 2…if you want to know why…listen to this podcast.

  • Early season observations
  • Top surprises from the first 10 games
  • Jasen’s day job…
  • Paying Josh

Jasen also threw down the gauntlet…let us hear from you!

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Apr 162012
 

Some Thoughts on Yu Darvish and Joe NathanThe Texas Rangers are 8-2 (on pace for 129 wins!) and have earned a much-deserved day off. Still, especially with their red-hot start, a day without Texas Rangers baseball is rough.

It’s similar to the delight of consuming a delicious chocolate shake—loving it all the way—even down to the torturous final sip, when you know it’s almost gone.

Some might say that Joe Nathan has slipped some form of anti-goodness into our shakes, making that final sip—the ninth inning—bitter; even disgusting at times.

The side effects to Yu Darvish’s two rough starts have been astutely diagnosed as follows: dizziness, then drowsiness, followed by acute nausea and, finally, a full-on, wig-splitting headache.

But hell, he’s only partly to blame, after all he didn’t force me to drink beer by the gallon during his starts…or did he?

Well, just like that syrupy filth that your Mom used to give you when you had a cough, sometimes you’ve got to put up with the bad in order to get to the good.

Rest assured, for the Texas Rangers it’s mainly all good, but let’s shed some light on the bad.

Joe “XXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXXX” Nathan (nickname withheld…hint: rhymes with ‘cod slam smother tucking’)
0-2, 6.00 ERA, 3 Saves, 1 BS, 8 Ks, 0 BBs, 7 hits, 6 IP

We’ve already established that the Rangers are an impressive 8-2. They could have been 9-1 (maybe even 10-0) had it not been for Mr. Two First Names, and his “amazing” slider that seems to break right into the fat part of the opposition’s bats.

Granted, the one or two-win differential doesn’t matter a whole lot, at least not right now. Besides, if the Angels continue to play as they have, we might not have as close a stretch run as originally thought.

Regardless, Nathan has been pretty bad. It’s especially difficult to witness since his stuff seems to be fine, and he ‘s not walking anybody. Literally, he has yet to surrender a free pass.

Here’s hoping last night’s save in Minnesota is a sign of what is to come. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve already come to grips with Wednesday’s blown-save shellacking. As long as Nathan can stay in a groove, and miss some more bats, he should be fine.

Watching Joe Nathan close games gives me a whole new perspective on former closer, Neftali Feliz. It’s similar to watching Michael Young toil around third base when you’re used to watching Adrian Beltre.

Yu Darvish
1-0, 4.76 ERA, IP: 11.1, Hits: 17, BBs: 8, Ks: 9

Sure, I knew (as we all did) that Darvish wasn’t going to be as good as Justin Verlander immediately. Hell, Justin Verlander wasn’t even Justin Verlander until he had a few starts under his belt.

But, Darvish, in his first two starts has looked more like a young A.J. Burnett.

Ouch. But it’s far too early to close the book on Darvish. Remember, he’s only had two starts, and his second one was much better than his first. He’s also routinely praised for his work ethic, is only 25-years-old and teachable.

And, let’s not forget, that during his most recent start against the Twins, he had to deal with Michael Young playing third base. A folding chair with a Rangers hat would stop more ground balls.

Check out this quote from an unnamed scout on Darvish that appeared in one of Ken Rosenthal’s articles today:

“He’s going to give up a ton of hits,” the scout said. “A lot of his fastballs are very straight. The guy is supposed to throw hard. But he basically pitched at 89 to 92, touching 93-94. That’s pretty good in Japan. It’s not very good here.”
“He has a good cutter, a good curveball. But when he gets in trouble, he turns into a breaking-ball guy – nibble, nibble, he won’t let it go. He reminded me of Dice-K.”

I’m not even a big sabermetrics guy, and this idiotic quote makes me want to agree with the notion that scouts are a bunch of numbskulls.

To me the most angering thing about this quote is that it agrees with so much of the other negative crap that seems to assume that Darvish is a finished product, incapable of adjustment.

Dude, it’s not like we bought a Betamax cassette and we only have a VHS player to watch it on.

Darvish is going to be fine. He’s already good enough to be the Rangers’ number four starter, and he’ll only get better.

Now, as for Joe Nathan…well, the Rangers have plenty of other ninth-inning options should the bed-wetting continue

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Apr 092012
 

Monday Morning FastballsA couple of months ago when the Rangers were rumored to be interested in free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt, he was the guy who was thought to lose his spot in the rotation.

For the last 2-3 years when writers/fans praise Jon Daniels for the quality bounty he got in return for Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves, he isn’t mentioned first…or even second.

When (most of) you think of the breakout left-handed starter on the Texas Rangers, he’s not the first name that comes to mind.

Last night…he was brilliant, and we all took notice.

Matt Harrison was dominant throughout Spring Training, and he brought that same command and presence into the regular season last night in front of 45,368 cheering Rangers fans and possibly more importantly, in front of baseball fans worldwide on the nationally televised ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game.  Harrison pitched six scoreless frames against the Chicago White Sox to give the Rangers the 2-1 series win.

“I was able to throw my offspeed pitches for strikes early in the game,” Harrison said. “It gave them something to swing at besides my fastball. They fouled a lot of pitches off early, but I just kept pounding the strike zone and making them put the ball in play.”

“Harrison pitched great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “This is one of those where you tip your hat to him.”

“Outstanding,” manager Ron Washington said. “Harrison had a good sinker working, he was moving the ball up and down, in and out, good breaking ball. Early in the game they fouled off so many pitches it put him in a bad way at the end, but he gave us what we needed tonight.”

  • Harrison gave up 4 hits and allowed 2 walks while striking out 3 across his six innings of work.
  • Hamilton, Beltre & Murph all went yard in this game, with Hamilton’s being a ridiculous 441 foot blast that initially looked like it was going to exit the stadium.
  • Hamilton also made two nice snags in center field.

Quick Hits:

  • Tonight is the debut of Yu.  Tickets are still available from the Rangers and on StubHub.  Why aren’t you going?
  • Robbie Ross was impressive last night in his Major League debut, working a scoreless 8th inning, striking out Paul Konerko and walking one.
  • Jasen and I will be at the game tonight, so hit us up on Twitter (@baseballdo).
  • We will be recording this weeks podcast tomorrow night.  If you’d like to submit a question or topic, please comment on this post or sent it via the Contact Us page.
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Apr 032012
 

We recorded our 2012 Season Preview podcast last night and will have it up on the site later today.

Tuesday Morning SlidersBold Prediction #2 – Elvis Andrus will be the starting short-stop for the 2012 American League All-Star team.

This builds on yesterday’s prediction of Ian Kinsler winning the 2012 AL MVP.  As I wrote yesterday, I think one of the keys for Kinsler is going to be the improvement of Andrus’ offensive performance in 2012 which would help provide Kinsler with more line-up protection – aka, can’t pitch around Kinsler if Elvis is hitting the ball well.  Elvis worked to build his upper body and core strength during the off-season and that, along with his experience, athleticism and advancing maturity and discipline a the plate are going to make him a threat in the 2-hole for the Rangers all season.

The best part about this prediction is that my fellow Rangers fans can help me make it come true by voting for Elvis when the voting commences this season.  No doubt the Yankees and Indians fans will vote in droves to try to get their short stop the starting role, but Elvis will prevail…and it won’t be because Rangers fans have stuffed the ballot boxes because Elvis is simply a Ranger.  It will be because Elvis has deserved and proven he is the top player at his position.

Nolan Ryan spoke with media yesterday before the Rangers and the AAA Round Rock Express played.  Ryan addressed a number of hot topics including the Angels, Josh Hamilton and Yu Darvish.

“The Angels have stepped up and helped themselves,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be a tough division for us. They are very competitive, and it will come down to who stays healthiest. They have real strong pitching, so we know we have our work cut out for us.  It should make it interesting. It should make it a good rivalry. I’m looking forward to it. I still think we have the best ballclub.”

When asked if the Rangers-Angels rivalry compares to the Red Sox-Yankees, Ryan said “Are we the West Coast version of it?  I don’t know. I don’t think a lot about it. Obviously, the fact that we’ve won the division the last two years and they felt like they had a lock on that. [Angels owner] Arte [Moreno] stepped up and tried to do something about it.  It will be good for our division and baseball, and it’s going to stimulate more interest, obviously, with Pujols and C.J. over there.”

“[Center field is] where he wants to be,” Ryan said about Josh Hamilton. “It’s where he is happiest. It’s where his focus is. He’ll be fine there.”

“He has a good feel for pitching,” Ryan said about Yu Darvish. “He tried to make some adjustments. Each start he had he worked on things. I saw improvement. I thought that was a positive.  We don’t have any numbers we’re putting with him.  We think he’ll pitch in the rotation and he should pitch a lot of innings. I think he’s at the point in his career where he’s accustomed to throwing 200-plus innings. Somewhere in that neighborhood, I think, would be the expectations.”

Quick hits:

  • Josh Hamilton hit his first homer of the Spring yesterday against Round Rock, blasting a 426 foot 2-run 3rd inning home run to center field.
  • Derek Holland started the game and threw 78 pitches, giving up a 2-run home run to Yangervis Solarte.  Holland felt good after the start, despite the long ball.

“I’m ready to go for sure, despite the home runs,” Holland said. “I thought everything was good. I left a couple of pitches up for strikes. That’s part of getting ready for the season.”

  • Matt Harrison pitches tonight at the Ballpark against Mexico City, 7:05pm first pitch.
  • The Rangers have rounded out their roster, sending Julio Borbon to AAA to start the season.  Alberto Gonzalez, Brandon Snyder and Craig Gentry all secured the final bench spots on the team.  Snyder gives the team a lot of flexibility as the 3rd catcher, 3rd baseman and corner outfielder.
  • Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar will be starting for the Frisco Rough Riders to start the season.  Maybe the next Field Trip will be to Frisco to see these two budding stars.
  • 2012 opening MLB Power Rankings have the Rangers in 2nd.
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Mar 302012
 

If you didn’t catch it on Twitter last night, we are giving away a pair of tickets to see the Mariners and Rangers on Wednesday, April 11.  To be eligible for the drawing, all you have to do is purchase your tickets for the Baseball Do Field Trip prior to midnight tonight.  We’ll announce the winner over the weekend.

Friday Morning KnuckleballsMatt Harrison continued his strong Spring in yesterday’s 6-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

  • Harrison pitched 6 innings, giving up one run on six hits, while striking out seven and only walking one.  He threw 91 pitches and lowered his Spring Training ERA to 1.69.

“I think I have really been consistent this spring pounding the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters,” Harrison said. “A lot of it comes from last year. The games I was successful were the ones that I was aggressive and went right after hitters. I brought that mentality into Spring Training and it has paid off.”

  • Reliever Yoshinori Tateyama gave up 3 runs in the top of the seventh, blowing the 2-1 lead Harrison had protected.
  • Napoli and Moreland led off the second inning with back-to-back home runs off Giants starter Matt Cain. That was the third home run in the last three days for Napoli.
The Rangers have set their rotation, which to the surprise of at least Baseball Do, will not split up left handed starters Derek Holland & Matt Harrison.
  1. Colby Lewis – Opening Day, April 6th vs. White Sox
  2. Derek Holland – April 7th vs. White Sox
  3. Matt Harrison – April 8th vs. White Sox
  4. Yu Darvish – April 9th vs. Mariners
  5. Neftali Feliz – April 9th vs. Mariners
  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsIt was well known that Wash was going to give the Opening Day nod to veteran Colby Lewis.  While you could argue that Lewis doesn’t necessarily have the highest ceiling or most potential of the pitchers on this staff, he deserves the nod for his tenure with the team and more importantly for his recent big-game/postseason performances.
“He’s my veteran,” Washington said. “He’s the guy who is dependable. You know what you’re going to get from him. He’s going to battle and he’s my most experienced pitcher.”
  • I like the move.  Darvish debuts in a game which will probably have less pressure (Sunday nights game will be nationally televised) and it’s a bit of a reward for Matt Harrison, which is much deserved given his strong campaign in 2011.
  • Splitting up the lefties, while seemingly a sound strategy, doesn’t carry much weight statistically and more the likely the rotation will be out of order due to off-days or fill-ins by Scooter Feldman by mid-May…if not sooner.

Quick Hits:

  • Friday Morning KnuckleballsRangers face off with the Rockies tonight in what will be the final Spring start for Yu Darvish.
  • Brad Hawpe’s career with the Rangers is over, as the veteran was unconditionally released yesterday.  Hawpe, who was brought on as insurance against Moreland’s wrist, has been invited back by the club to play in the minors if he is unable to find a major league job with another team.
  • Next week’s podcast will be our official 2012 Season Preview.  Feel free to post questions here on the blog or send us questions via the Contact Us page if you have anything specific you want us to address.
  • Sports Illustrated has put their season predictions out, and while they have the Rangers making it into the postseason as a wild card, they give the AL West crown to the Angels.  Even worse, they pick the Angels to eliminate the Rangers in the ALDS and to go on to win the World Series.

Have a good weekend!

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Mar 262012
 

OK, so our balls are neither fast or in the morning today…Jasen and I both have some shoulder stiffness, so today’s lateness and brevity are both just precautionary.

Monday Morning FastballsYu Darvish had a good outing yesterday in a minor league intrasquad game.  He threw 85 pitches over five innings, giving up four runs to a team consisting of some of the top Rangers prospects – Leonys Martin, Mike Olt, Engel Beltre, etc.  He gave up six hits and two walks, while striking out 11.

“I gave up four runs, but I was not unhappy at all with my outing,” Darvish said afterwards. “Overall, I felt very good. I thought my pitches were good, but I kind of backed up the slider a couple of times … little by little, it’s coming.”

Pitching coach Mike Maddux was pleased with the improvement that he saw from Yu.

“I thought he looked good,” Maddux said. “He’s improved each time out. His velocity was there and he spun a few [curves]. I thought his stuff was good. He feels good physically, he said he could go nine innings. That’s a good sign.”

Darvish will start again on Friday against Colorado and is scheduled to pitch six innings and around 100 pitches.

Quick Hits:

  • Colby Lewis isn’t concerned with his hip…therefore, neither are we.
  • Monday Morning FastballsRobbie Ross continues to campaign for a spot in the Rangers bullpen.  This time, Ross put together a nice outing against the hated Angels, striking out the first two batters he faced looking.  He gave up one hit in the outing, but got Albert Pujols out on a line drive to left field.  We’ll be talking about Ross tonight on the podcast and weighing in on the many different options the Rangers have with the prospect.
  • Craig Gentry left yesterday’s game against the Angels due to dehydration.  Will someone please get that man some Gatorade.
  • Neftali Feliz will start tomorrow and says he feels good.  He threw in a bullpen session yesterday and said that his right shoulder, which he experienced some stiffness in last week, felt fine.
  • Matt Harrison was strong on Saturday in a minor league Spring Training game against the Royals Triple A players.  He pitched 6 scoreless, allowing no runs on two hits, with four strikeouts and no walks on 71 pitches.
  • Joe Nathan, on the other hand, continued to give us runs on Saturday, giving up two of them on three hits across five batters.  Ron Washington isn’t concerned with the results Nathan is accumulating in Spring Training, nor should he be, but it will be interesting to see how long the leash is that Nathan has once the regular season begins.
  • Baseball Do Field Trip!

Jennifer and Megan from www.RangersTalkers.com will be joining us tonight on the podcast to talk about Robbie Ross, the Rangers situation in center field, Tailgating and Ballpark food!

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Mar 212012
 

Baseball Do Podcast Episode 11   Big news for us and Dutch!  C.J. sucks!Jasen and I talk about:

  • Our new partnership with Patty Shack Burgers!
  • Derek Holland’s new contract
  • Neftali’s stiff shoulder
  • The closer role
  • C.J. Wilson’s failed attempt at a prank on Mike Napoli
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Mar 202012
 

Yu Darvish flashes improved command in third start

For the third installment of Yu Darvish Theater Yu got to do his thing at his “home” ballpark in Surprise, Arizona. The Yu also gave us a glance at his windup.

It looked wonderful!

Plus, it was a welcome sight since starters usually only throw from the stretch when runners are on base, and (God willing) Darvish will occasionally pitch with no one on.

As has been true in every one of his starts thus far, Darvish has flashed the brilliance that comes with a free agent signing of his caliber. He threw 70 pitches, with first-pitch strikes to eight of the sixteen Brewers he faced.

Overall, Darvish had much better command than he had shown in his previous start against the Indians last week. Impressively, Darvish’s slider—once again—showed excellent bite and movement and he commanded it well.

Here’s a breakdown of his start from inning to fantastic inning.

First Inning

The Brewers were retired 1-2-3. This is of special note since it was Rickie Weeks, Nyjer Morgan, and reigning NL MVP—and testosterone aficionado—Ryan Braun that Darvish dispatched of.

Darvish punched out Weeks with his infamous slider, retired Morgan on a groundball and induced Braun to pop out weekly to second basemen Ian Kinsler.

“Tony Plush”—Morgan’s alter ego, created solely for the purpose of PR/interviews when he does/says something incredibly stupid—had no comment.  But I’m sure that Morgan still managed to do or say something stupid at some point.

Second Inning

Travis Ishikawa worked a six-pitch walk to lead things off for the Brew Crew. Darvish used his “slower” slider—that works like a slurve—to get Alex Gonzalez to fly out to centerfield for the first out of the second.

Darvish then struck out backup catcher Kottaras with a nasty slider and quickly had two outs in the frame.

Yu labored a little to get the third out.

On a 2-1 count, Darvish lost the handle on a slider and hit Jonathan Lucroy to put two men on base. Former Japanese League counterpart Norichika Aoki—who would go 3-3 with 3 RBI for the game—managed an RBI single to cut the Rangers lead in half to 2-1.

Darvish recovered well and struck out Cesar Izturis on three pitches to end the inning and the Brewers threat.

Third Inning

The third inning was eerily similar to the first inning for Darvish. He retired the same batters—Weeks, Morgan and Braun—in the same manner…strikeout, groundout and fly out.

Fourth Inning

The Rangers scratched out another run in the bottom of the third, thus Darvish once again had a two-run lead with which to work.

Yu walked leadoff man Travis Ishikawa. Darvish retired A. Gonzalez on a groundout and then walked George Kottaras.

Lucroy—who Darvish had plucked in the second inning—came up with a robust spring batting average near .500. But, as has been his modus operandi all spring, Darvish was able to get the one key pitch when he needed it most—this time it was a cutter that Lucroy rolled over to start a 5-4-3 twin killing that successfully ended Darvish’s final inning of work.

All in all, it was a solid outing for Darvish. His line looked like this:

4 IP, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 4 GOs, 4 FOs, 2 DPs, 1 ER 1 Hit

Sure, we’d all like to see Darvish walk fewer batters. This is when it is time for the obligatory reminder that, hey, this is just spring training. Dude! Relax, you’re killing my buzz! Spring is the time when pitchers (even highly-touted Japanese ones named Yu Darvish) amp up their velocity and improve things such as command, location, etc.

Bottom Line:

Darvish had the most strikeouts (4), the fewest hits allowed (1) of the spring. And he accomplished these fine things while pitching from the windup…after his worst start as a Ranger…

Works for me.

Yu Darvish Theater will be on hiatus for this weekend’s series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It’s nothing personal; it’s just that, frankly, the Angels don’t deserve to witness the greatness of the Yu just yet. That, and the fact that Darvish doesn’t want C.J. Wilson to tweet his cell phone number to everyone in America.

Thirsting for more Yu Darvish

? Yu Darvish flashes improved command in third startBaseball Do has plenty to get your Yu-mania juices flowing. Follow Timothy on Twitter for all of the latest on the Texas Rangers.

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