Editor's Note: Before we shift our complete focus to the 2013 season, let's take a quick look back at 10 memorable moments -- games, signings, events -- from the 2012 campaign. By memorable, we mean both good and bad moments.
Memorable Moment No. 6: Yu Darvish wins big league debut.
The 25-year-old Japanese star made his long-awaited major league debut at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington against Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners in the fourth game of the 2012 season. The Rangers didn't want to put too much pressure on Darvish by putting him higher in the rotation order, and the Monday night debut against Suzuki made for tremendous stories here and in Japan.
Darvish, signed in early January to a six-year, $56 million contract, looked a little nervous in the first inning. He gave up four runs on four hits and three walks. Darvish didn't have solid command and looked uncomfortable, needing 42 pitches to get through an inning that took more than 20 minutes. He only threw four first-pitch strikes in that first inning and had three three-ball counts. Pitching coach Mike Maddux even came out to check on him and try to calm him down.
"When I stepped on the mound for the first time, I felt calm and my mind felt calm," Darvish said through interpreter Joe Furukawa after the game. "But my body felt like it wanted to go, go, go. My mind and my body were not on the same page."
But thanks to the Ranger bats, Darvish's first inning didn't cost him. Darvish settled down and the Rangers ended up winning 11-5. He gave up another run in the second, but then found his rhythm. He lasted 5 2/3 innings, and when it was over, Darvish was a winner.
"He was just overamped," Rangers manager Ron Washington said at the time. "He wanted to battle and he wanted to be a warrior. He wanted to give us those zeroes after the second inning because it gave us a chance to get back into the game."
It was a huge crowd, as you'd expect, and a large contingent of media was on hand to witness it. The game was carried live in Japan and members of Darvish's family were in attendance. After the game, Darvish admitted he was fired up for the start and vowed he'd get better. Of course, he did. Even though he gave up five runs, Darvish got a standing ovation from the home crowd, which understood he was battling nerves and dealing with a host of adjustments as he ventured into the big leagues.
You only get one major league debut. And Darvish's was certainly memorable.
Were you there? What do you remember most about Darvish's first MLB start?