ARLINGTON -- Hey, Yu Darvish has high expectations, too, and through three starts he had fallen short of how he hoped he would have performed so far in the major leagues.
And even after his fourth start Tuesday, in which he scattered seven hits and struck out 10 New York Yankees in 8 1/3 scoreless innings, he wants more.
"It was nice pitching against the Yankees and performing like this," Darvish said. "I still like to think that there's still more in me."
Darvish turned in his best performance as a major-leaguer against one of the league's best lineups, escaping trouble in the third and dominating the rest of the way to outpitch countryman Hiroki Kuroda for a 2-0 victory.
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Ian Kinsler hit a leadoff homer, Josh Hamilton had an RBI single in the third, and Elvis Andrus made two spectacular plays at shortstop as Darvish improved to 3-0 and the Texas Rangers improved to 14-4.
"If it gets better than that, we're certainly in for something the rest of the year," manager Ron Washington said. "He threw everything at them but the kitchen sink."
A crowd of 47,085 was thrilled when Darvish was allowed to start the ninth inning at 113 pitches. He got Mark Teixeira on a fly ball to center, but Nick Swisher singled to end Darvish's night.
He left to a standing ovation, and acknowledged the sellout crowd with a tip of his cap and a wave toward the seats. Joe Nathan entered, and needed only one pitch to get a game-ending double play.
Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson went a combined 0 for 11, and Teixeira had the only three flyball outs as Darvish pounded away low in the strike zone with his sinker, cutter and changeup.
"He was good," Teixeira said. "You hear a lot of guys get hyped, and he was everything that you'd heard. I can't say enough. He pitched really well tonight."
Darvish had only two 1-2-3 innings, but he walked only two and only once did the Yankees have a runner get past second base.
That was in the third, when Darvish pulled his best escape act of the young season.
The first three Yankees reached, and they had the bases loaded for Granderson. He hit 41 homers last season, but he looked at a called third strike for the first out.
Rodriguez was next. After taking a strike, he hit a weak chopper to third base, where Adrian Beltre stepped on the bag for one out and threw across the diamond for the inning-ending double play.
"In that situation, I thought to myself, giving up one run or two runs was OK," Darvish said. "Somehow, I had to get Curtis Granderson out."
In the fourth, Darvish pitched around a leadoff double by Robinson Cano by striking out Teixeira and Swisher, and getting a weak grounder from Raul Ibanez.
Darvish pitched around a hit in each of the next three innings, including the seventh when he struck out the side.
He opened the eighth at 103 pitches, and needed only 10 more to plow through Granderson, Rodriguez on a terrific backhanded stop by Andrus, and Cano.
"It was everything -- cutter, split, curveball, changeup," Cano said. "Someone who throws that many pitches? I don't know of anyone."
Darvish finished at 119 pitches, two shy of his season-high over 6 1/3 innings Thursday at Detroit. Five days later he was at his best, establishing a mid-90s fastball and throwing all of his other pitches for strikes.
He won't pitch again until Tuesday at Toronto. The benchmark, fair or not, has been set.
"Just like we're not going to put too much into the first couple starts, we're not going to sit here and hand him the Cy Young and MVP after one start," veteran Michael Young said.
"He's a great pitcher, he's a great teammate, and we know he's going to have a great year and help us out. But he's just like the rest of us. We're just going to focus on getting better."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760