Yu Darvish, the $100 million dollar savior of the Texas Rangers rotation, the man who is poised to help Texas cross that final hurdle and win the franchise’s first World Series, will make his long-awaited major league debut tonight in Arlington, against the AL West leading and seemingly unstoppable Seattle Mariners.
Darvish dominated the competition in Japan, compiling a 93-38 record with a 1.99 ERA over seven seasons, on the strength of a blistering fastball and varied arsenal that includes pitches people didn’t even know existed (i.e. the reverse eephus, scruveball, etc.) He carried that success over to spring training, where the right-hander made major league hitters look like little leaguers.
The regular season started and Texas decided to make Darvish their number four starter, despite his enormous talent, lining him up for a date with fellow countrymen Ichiro Suzuki and Munenori Kawasaki. As if the pressure of a Major League debut wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, Darvish will have to do it with an entire nation tuned in. So far, he seems unfazed:
“I’m not in perfect shape,” said Darvish when asked about his first start, “but I’m starting to feel ready to go.”
Not perfect? Starting to feel ready? That’s simply not going to cut it against a Mariners squad that has scored the second most runs in baseball and collected the second most hits in the American League (let’s gloss over the fact that they have played one more game than everything other team except Oakland, because, does that really matter?) The Mariners five stolen bases? Almost twice as many as the next closest team in the AL. Seattle’s two triples? More than twice as many as any team but the Tampa Bay Rays.
Quite simply, the Mariners are an offensive juggernaut hell-bent on the destruction of opposing pitcher’s ERAs. A well oiled war machine with the drive of Alexander the Great and the cunning of George Patton. Seattle is not the team a young hurler wants to start his career against. Far from it.
Good luck Mr. Darvish. Yu’ll need it…
*obligatory “Yu” pun, prepare for an onslaught after tonight’s game