Yu Darvish won the battle of Japanese hurlers, outpitching countryman Hiroki Kuroda by striking out 10 as the Texas Rangers blanked the New York Yankees 2-0.
Righthander Darvish improved to 3-0 on the season, scattering seven hits and walking just two in 8 1/3 innings, looking superb as he held the high-powered Yankees in check on Tuesday.
Darvish was asked after the game if this was as good as it gets.
"I'd like to think there is a little more that I can do," he said.
Kuroda allowed five hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings for the Yankees who saw their four-game win streak come to a halt. Kuroda, 37, struck out five and walked two as he fell to 1-3 on the season.
The marquee matchup featured Kuroda, the fifth-winningest Japanese pitcher in Major League Baseball history, against Darvish who is arguably the most-hyped pitching ace to come out of Japan.
The 25-year-old Darvish received a standing ovation from the crowd of 47,085 when he left the game in the ninth inning with one batter already out. Darvish was pulled after allowing a Nick Swisher single.
Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said he and Darvish make a good team.
"It was easy for me," Napoli said. "We used every pitch imaginable. He has so many pitches. I am starting to learn them well and things are going really good."
The other five matchups comprised Kenshin Kawakami against Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2009, Matsuzaka against Tomo Ohka in 2007, Ohka against Mac Suzuki in 2002, Suzuki against Hideo Nomo in 2000 and Suzuki against Hideki Irabu in 1999.
Darvish had been hot and cold in his first three starts but he showed Tuesday why the Rangers decided to pay $107.7 million to acquire him before the start of the season. Of that total, $56 million is for his six-year deal and the rest was simply for the right to negotiate with him.
The Rangers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to an Ian Kinsler home run in the bottom of the first inning. Kinsler drove a one-and-one pitch over the left-centre field wall.
Darvish also managed to pitch himself out of a couple of jams and got some help by a couple of brilliant defensive plays from shortstop Elvis Andrus.
"If it gets better than that, we are certainly in for something special the rest of the year," Washington said. "Tonight he used everything he had and he needed it."
Source: AFP Global Edition