The New York Yankees looked at Yu Darvish as hard as anyone the last few years, their scouts and talent evaluators almost universally sending, and coming back with, rave reviews.
Ultimately, with their new fiscal restraint -- and having been burned by past Japanese stars such as Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa -- the Yankees didn't come close to the winning $51.7-million posting fee the Rangers did this offseason.
Darvish showed some good and some bad his first three starts this year, but was flat out brilliant in his fourth Tuesday night, honoring much of the hype that has surrounded him as he outpitched fellow countryman Hiroki Kuroda in a 2-0 victory in front of 47,085 at Rangers Ballpark.
The 25-year-old Darvish, hearing a drawn out 'Yuuuuuuuu' after each of his eight-plus innings, scattered seven hits and held the Yankees to 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The righthander, pulled with one out in the ninth after allowing a Nick Swisher single, struck out 10 and walked two. Joe Nathan induced a double-play grounder from Raul Ibanez for his fifth save.
The one hit with RISP was a Derek Jeter bunt single that loaded the bases in the third inning but the Yankees (10-7), who saw their four-game winning streak end, came up empty. Jeter stayed hot, going 2-for-4, including a double.
The game in Japan took on event status as it was just the seventh time two Japanese-born pitchers squared off in a major-league game. A huge Japanese media contingent was here, but the day before, both pitchers pledged indifference to occasion.
"This is not a one-on-one game," said Kuroda, who was involved in the last such matchup, July 22, 2010, when he was with the Dodgers and faced Hisanori Takahashi of the Mets. "It's the Rangers against the Yankees and I'm going to do as much as possible so that our team's going to win."
Kuroda, who came in 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA, pitched well against one of the game's best lineups, allowing two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five.
Ian Kinsler gave the Rangers an early 1-0 lead, starting the bottom of the first by driving a 1-and-1 pitch that came in belt-high middle, over the wall in deep left-center for his fifth homer of the season.
Darvish retired the Yankees 1-2-3 in the second, striking out Swisher and Ibanez to end the inning.
They got something going in the third but came up empty, a theme for the night.
Eric Chavez, starting at third with Alex Rodriguez having the day at designated hitter, led off with a single to right. Russell Martin walked and Jeter pushed a bunt toward the first-base side of the mound for a single to load the bases.
It gave Jeter, who came into the game hitting .411 with a .436 OBP, a 14-game hitting streak and a hit in 16 of the team's first 17 games.
The Yankees came away frustrated, however, as Darvish struck out Curtis Granderson and A-Rod grounded into a 5-3 double play.