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Darvish's stellar return bodes well for Rangers

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A different kind of Yu Darvish was on display Sunday, one of many likely to be seen this season, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Darvish was different but still extremely effective during a 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in his first start of the season at Tropicana Field.

Just off the disabled list after neck stiffness cost him his final tune-ups of spring training and his Opening Day start, the right-hander struck out five of the first eight batters he faced, then wriggled out of trouble in the middle innings. Darvish, 27 allowed seven hits and a walk in seven scoreless innings, striking out six.

High pitch counts and borderline high walk totals were typical for Darvish in his first two major league seasons. On Sunday, however, with his fastball under control and his breaking ball and cutter down in the strike zone, he traversed seven innings in just 89 pitches (65 strikes).

"I think you'll see many Yu Darvishes," Washington said. "You'll see a Yu Darvish that might throw 103 in seven innings and get the same results. So today was a good day for the team. Today was a good day for Yu Darvish to come back this year. He threw the ball very well, for not seeing hitters for three weeks. And I know that was on a lot of people's minds, but it never was on his, and that was the most important thing."

Darvish did not lobby to return for the eighth, Washington said.

"If it was a little deeper in the season and he had some innings under his belt, you never know, you might have gotten eight out him, even nine today," he said.

Darvish became the quickest ever to reach 500 career strikeouts when he whiffed right hander Wil Myers in the first inning. Darvish, at 401 2/3 innings, barely beat the standard set by Kerry Wood in 2001, 404 2/3 innings.

"It was not like I was 20 or 21 when I first came here, so it's kind of hard to compare with other American pitchers," said Darvish, who joined Texas as a 25-year-old in 2012 after several professional seasons in Japan. "But I think this milestone is a result of being healthy and being able to pitch in good health."
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