The 25-year-old Texas Rangers starter had to face Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and the hard-hitting Detroit Tigers. He had to pitch in the suffocating triple-digit Texas heat for the first time. And he had to figure out how to bounce back from a 29-pitch first inning in which he put his team behind 2-0 before the offense even had a chance to go to work.
But by the time the first frame was over, Darvish had settled into a rhythm and was pitching more efficiently. He lasted seven innings (113 pitches) and gave up four runs on four hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. And most important, he left with his team in the lead. Darvish watched from the dugout as the bullpen helped him secure his AL-leading 10th win, the best piece of evidence for his inclusion in the All-Star Game on July 10.
"It seemed like the longer the game went, the better he got," manager Ron Washington said after the Rangers' 7-5 win Tuesday night. "He was trying to get a rhythm again in those first few innings and they put some runs on the board. But we came back and answered and he continued to pound the strike zone. All of a sudden his fastball was crisper, his breaking ball was crisper and he was using the pitches at the right time. He kept us around, scored some runs and did a great job."