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By Dan Cook, WCCO Radio
Japanese sensation Yu Darvish made only his second Major League appearance on Saturday, pitching against the Twins for the first time in his brief Rangers career.
The 25-year-old right-hander had plenty of firsts: his first regular-season road start, his first day game, and his first “no decision” after leaving the game in the 6th with the score tied at 2.
He’s the second-youngest Japanese native (25 years, 237 days) to ever make his Major League debut as a starter, behind only Tomo Ohka (23 years, 123 days) on July 19, 1999. By comparison, the last Japanese pitcher to receive this much attention – Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka – was 26 years old (and 204 days) when he debuted with the Red Sox back in 2007.
But it isn’t the first time Darvish has made an impact in America. Back in 2009 during the inaugural World Baseball Classic, Yu went 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA, appearing in 5 games for the championship-winning Japanese team, including earning the win and recording the last out in the finals against Korea.
Darvish displayed an impressive array of pitches mixing his fastball and splitter with a slider, curveball and super-slo-mo curveball that registered several times in the low 60s. Some in baseball wonder if he wouldn’t be better served by shrinking his repertoire, focusing on three or four of them and making them Major League quality. But when you watch him spin a 67 mph eephus-looking pitch up there against Justin Morenau, and follow that up by blowing a 93 mph fastball by him, it’s tough to say he should change up his approach this early in his Major League career.