ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Washington doesn't know when Yu Darvish will make the complete transition from Japan to the big leagues.
It could take this full first year before Darvish adjusts to the baseball, to the mound, to learn the hitters. And that's not even mentioning the culture change.
"He has a lot on his plate," Washington said. "We may not see the real Yu Darvish until the end of the year going into next year."
The Texas Rangers are banking on that being a pitcher who consistently turns in performances like he did against the Houston Astros on Friday. Darvish had his best start in more than three weeks, leading Texas to a 6-2 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Darvish finished the game allowing two runs on seven hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts. The 11 strikeouts matched his career high, and he has recorded double-digit strikeouts in three of his first 13 starts.
Eight of his strikeouts came in his final three innings.
"In the early part of the game, I was very careful throwing strikes," Darvish said through a translator. "The second half, I gave it all and just went after them and ended up getting a lot of strikeouts. Overall, I was able to throw a lot of strikes and thought it was a very good outing tonight."
Darvish, who was pitching on seven days rest, worked off his fastball all night. He commanded it well, especially as the game went on.
The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the third when Darvish issued a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve on four pitches. Altuve stole second, and scored on an RBI single by Jed Lowrie.
Darvish gave up a leadoff single in the fourth, but erased that by inducing a double-play grounder in the next at-bat against Chris Johnson. He ended the inning by striking out Brian Bogusevic.
Darvish worked a perfect fifth, and the Rangers' offense came through in the bottom half against Astros rookie right-hander Jordan Lyles.
With one out, Ian Kinsler reached on an error, Elvis Andrus was hit by a pitch and Michael Young came through with an RBI single to center to tie the game. After that, the floodgates opened.
Adrian Beltre drove in a run with a single, and Nelson Cruz blooped a single to center to load the bases. David Murphy then had a two-run single and Yorvit Torrealba capped the five-run inning with an RBI single to right.
"The one thing we're doing well is getting guys out there," Young said. "If we keep getting guys out there, we'll find ways to knock them in. Eventually, we're going to bust through and knock them in more consistently."
Those five runs were plenty of support for Darvish.
The Astros scored one more run off him in the seventh, as Justin Maxwell belted a solo home run. But Darvish responded by striking out the side in the eighth, his final inning.
"He rocketed the strike zone," Washington said. "He just stayed simple and had good stuff."
Asked about his confidence level in his fastball, Darvish said: "I don't know if I could say I have complete confidence in my fastball. It just goes to show tonight if I'm able to throw it for strikes, it's effective."
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760