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Yu Darvish Debuts

Yu Darvish saw his first live Major League Baseball action today. Even if the game didn’t count, the results were impressive.

In a live look-in provided by a partnership between MLB.com and NHK television, Darvish showed great velocity. His fastball hit 151 KM/H (or 94 MPH) by the in-game gun, and 95 MPH on PITCH f/x broadcast. A high fastball tied up legitimate slugger Carlos Quentin, and another blew by Cameron Maybin. The hardest hit balls may have been on the fastball, but one was a less-than-ringing double that Michael Young could have snared, and the other was a booming drive to center from Will Venable — moments after he had looked silly whiffing on both a 70 MPH looping curve and a tighter ~90 MPH slider.

What made the outing so exciting for Rangers fans — and fans of good pitching — was probably the movement Darvish exhibited, though.

He showed his looping curve, if only once. He showed both sliders — one a more slurvy pitch, and the other tighter. His fastball had two or three distinct looks, even if the announcer pointed out that if you ask a catcher, “they’re all fastballs — you only put one finger down for any of em.” The ball dipped, dived and darted — in both directions. He’s not likely to have platoon issues. Take a look:

He threw 36 pitches and got 10 swinging strikes, resulting in three strikeouts (two swinging). Five batters made contact: two were infield groundouts, one was an infield grounder/liner, one a soft fly ball to center, and the other was the booming fliner double. Obviously, that sort of whiff work wouldn’t hold up in a larger sample, but it’s a fantastic first start, and it at least suggests that he can make Major League hitters swing and miss.

The Rangers might have something pretty special on their hands.