True on all counts. These showdowns don't come along every day, though. And this one - the AL's strikeout king against his potential heir - is an enticing as they come.
The hard-throwing right-handers from Detroit and Texas will meet Thursday night in a billing that really hasn't been matched in Arlington since Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens faced off at old Arlington Stadium in 1989 - five years before Rangers Ballpark opened.
"That's pretty good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I would say that would be pretty interesting, I would think."
You would think. But you wouldn't be Verlander, the staff ace for Detroit. Or Darvish, the Rangers' second-year star. Or Texas manager Ron Washington .
"In May, getting excited, I try not to," Washington said. "It's great for the fans. If it doesn't go in our favor, it doesn't end our season. If Verlander has his stuff, it will be a long night. If Darvish has his stuff, it will be a long night. By long night, I mean runs will be at a premium, and it will be the first one to make a mistake."
That's pretty much the way it was April 30, 1989, when Ryan and the Rangers beat Clemens and the Boston Red Sox 2-1. Both went eight innings. Clemens gave up six hits with six strikeouts. Ryan limited the Red Sox to three hits and fanned 11.
Ryan is now the CEO in Texas, and figures to be watching from his usual seat in the first row near home plate.
"It's a nice matchup," Leyland said. "It's good for baseball."
Darvish is baseball's strikeout leader with 80 and on pace for 300, which hasn't been reached since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did it as Arizona teammates in 2002. Verlander has been the AL's strikeout leader three of the past four seasons.
Verlander doesn't push 100 mph on the radar gun quite as much as he used to, but always seems to find the velocity he needs in big moments.
Darvish can hit 95 mph and beyond, but the Japanese star is known more for varying speeds on his fastball and an array of pitches that had him within an out of a perfect game in his first start of the season at Houston.
"I saw him pitch last year a couple times," Verlander said. "I know he's striking out the world this year, but other than that, I haven't seen too much."
By their standards, both starters are coming off subpar games.
Darvish gave up two home runs and fell behind 3-1 in a rematch with the light-hitting Astros on Saturday, but improved to 6-1 when the Rangers rallied and won 8-7 despite a leaky Texas bullpen. He "only" had eight strikeouts in seven innings after getting 14 for the second time this season in his previous start. He's had at least 10 strikeouts four times.
Verlander had his worst outing of the year in a 7-6 loss to Cleveland that same day, giving up six hits and four runs in just five innings. He walked a season-high five and struck out seven.
Still, Verlander (4-3) has the edge over Darvish in ERA, 1.93 to 2.73.
"When I made the decision to come to the big leagues, I knew that I was going to be facing a lot of great pitchers," Darvish said through an interpreter. "I wasn't just thinking Verlander but there are many other great pitchers as well."
And Verlander isn't just thinking Darvish, or big matchup, especially this early.
"You don't need to get too amped up, especially for a game in May, and try to do too much," Verlander said. "That's the wrong way to approach it."
Washington sees the same approach from his prized ace-in-the-making.
"Because he's a competitor, he knows who's on the other side," Washington said. "But to stick your chest out and say, 'I relish that,' it's a game in May. He wants to win it as bad as Verlander wants to win it, but it's certainly not a championship or World Series matchup. It's just a ballgame that's on the schedule."
Verlander is 7-2 with a 2.02 ERA in 11 starts against Texas, going 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four outings at Rangers Ballpark.
Darvish won all three of his starts against Detroit last season behind a 3.60 ERA. He struck out 23 in 20 innings but walked 11.
The Tigers (22-16) enter this four-game series following Wednesday's 7-5 loss to Houston that prevented them from completing a three-game sweep. Detroit has dropped five of eight following a 10-2 stretch.
Texas (26-14) won for the sixth time in seven games Wednesday, 6-2 in Oakland.
|May 12, 2013||Austin Jackson||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 26, 2013||Phil Coke||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|April 26, 2013||Phil Coke||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|April 21, 2013||Octavio Dotel||Day-to-Day||Elbow inflammation|
|April 20, 2013||Octavio Dotel||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|April 09, 2013||Victor Martinez||Day-to-Day||Lacerated right thumb|
|May 06, 2013||A.J. Pierzynski||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|April 20, 2013||Nick Tepesch||Day-to-Day||Left game - right arm bruise|
|April 11, 2013||Justin Miller||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|April 07, 2013||Matt Harrison||15-Day DL||Inflamed nerve in lower back|
|April 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||Day-to-Day||Left game - blister|
|March 24, 2013||Neftali Feliz||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Justin Verlander flopped in his Texas showdown with Yu Darvish . The Japanese star was about to do the same until he settled down after the pitching duel fizzled.
Geovany Soto ended Verlander's night with a three-run homer that capped a seven-run third, and Darvish needed a career-high 130 pitches to get through eight innings in the Texas Rangers ' 10-4 win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.
Darvish gave up a home run to Jhonny Peralta , the first batter he faced after the Texas outburst that sent a shell-shocked Verlander to the Detroit dugout in his shortest outing in nearly three years. The drive made it three straight games with two homers allowed for Darvish, and pulled Detroit to 8-4.
Then the right-hander retired 15 of the final 16 Tigers he faced, including 10 straight.
"The thing about Yu Darvish , he bends but he never breaks," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's a tremendous lineup he went through. After that third inning, he settled in and found something that was working and he continued to pitch."
Soto's drive just over the wall in left field came after Verlander walked in two runs - he had three previous bases-loaded walks in his career. Mitch Moreland 's two-out double broke a 3-all tie before Soto's drive put Texas ahead 8-3.
"It wasn't much of a night to begin with but I'd definitely say the whole game kind of carry-over from my last start," said Verlander, who was coming off his worst outing of the year in a loss to Cleveland. "I'm not somebody who is going to go home and pout about this, I'm somebody who is going to figure it out and figure it out in a hurry."
Darvish (7-1) won his fifth straight decision despite allowing two home runs for the third start in a row. Baseball's strikeout leader matched his season low with six strikeouts, and didn't get the last one until Washington decided to bring him back out for the eighth even though he'd already thrown 115 pitches.
"Wash asked me if I could go longer and he seemed like he wanted to go a little bit longer," Darvish said. "And I felt really good so I wanted to go. The bullpen guys were pretty used up in that last series so I wanted to go."
Verlander (4-4) gave up six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 2 2-3 innings, his shortest outing since going two innings in a 14-6 loss to the New York Mets on June 22, 2010.
The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner had allowed just four earned runs in four previous starts at Rangers Ballpark. It was actually the second time in Verlander's last 16 starts dating to last season that he's allowed eight runs, his career high. He did it in a 9-8 loss to Kansas City last August.
"It was one of those where I think everybody in the world was looking for the matchup and it didn't turn out too good," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Those two guys out there and there were 12 runs scored - I don't think anybody expected that. We probably let down the audience a little bit."
Two nights after hitting two home runs in Oakland, Moreland had two doubles and three RBIs and pushed his batting average to .296 less than a month after he was hitting .157.
Darvish ran into trouble first when five of the first six Detroit hitters in the third inning reached, starting with Don Kelly 's first home run of the season into the lower porch in right field. Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez had sacrifice flies to put the Tigers ahead 3-1.
Verlander, the AL's strikeout leader the past two years, gave up consecutive singles to start the first and third innings. The Rangers scored just once in the first, but the right-hander couldn't survive the third once his control escaped him.
After Verlander hit Ian Kinsler with a curveball to loaded the bases, Elvis Andrus walked to score a run before Lance Berkman struck out on check swing on a pitch so high it bounced off the bricks behind home plate and came straight back to the catcher Kelly. Adrian Beltre walked to tie the score, and the hits from Moreland and Soto came after one of three strikeouts by Nelson Cruz , who hit his 11th homer.
Between them, Verlander and Darvish threw 74 pitches in the third inning and allowed 12 base runners and 10 runs. It wasn't quite the duel fans expected in Arlington's most anticipated pitching matchup since Nolan Ryan beat Roger Clemens 2-1 in 1989.
"They both had a bad third inning," Leyland said. "Justin was just quite worse than his but his wasn't too good either. We really grinded out our at-bats and they did, too. That's one thing this club does and that's one thing we do, too."
NOTES: The Rangers landed in Texas about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, following an afternoon game in Oakland after their charter flight was diverted to Albuquerque, N.M., because of severe storms in the Dallas area. At least six people died after tornadoes struck Granbury, about 50 miles southwest of Arlington. ... The Tigers sent RHP Al Alburquerque to Triple-A Toledo to work out issues with his control. He has 26 strikeouts in 14 1-3 innings, but has walked 13 and thrown six wild pitches. RHP Evan Reed was called up and made his major league debut in the sixth. ... Rangers C A.J. Pierzynski (strained oblique) took batting practice Thursday and could go on a short rehab assignment starting Sunday. He's eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday. ... Kinsler tied the Rangers record held by Rafael Palmeiro with his 54th hit by pitch when Verlander plunked him on the shoulder with a curveball.