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Sunday, May 5, 2013
Extra Bases: Darvish gets 2nd shot at Boston

By Todd Wills

ARLINGTON, Texas -- What can Boston expect this time?

A lot better version of Yu Darvish than it saw last August.

Darvish produced his worst outing in 35 Major League starts at Fenway Park last summer, allowing a career-high 11 hits. He also had four walks and allowed six runs in a 9-2 loss to the Red Sox. Darvish had what now is a well-known sitdown with manager Ron Washington after the loss.

And everything changed. Darvish made eight more starts after Fenway to close out the 2012 season. He had a 5-1 record and a sparkling 2.31 ERA. He also dominated in the Rangers' wildcard game loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

It's carried over to this season. He's 5-1 with a 2.33 ERA. He leads baseball with 59 strikeouts. He is 10-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 14 starts since that turning-point day in Boston.

The always coy Darvish didn't want to make a big deal about his poor start against Boston, or what it's meant to his dominating numbers since that day.

"I couldn't really comment on that," Darvish said. I don't think there is a reason why I pitched that well the last half. They hit me pretty well last year so I don't want to repeat it this year."

Darvish can tie Boston's Clay Buckholz for wins with a victory Sunday. He has mastered figuring out which of his pitches are working on a given night and going with it. It's the biggest adjustment he's made this season.

The Red Sox likely will be the team adjusting Sunday.

"It's a totally different style of pitching this year so it's difficult to compare the two," Darvish said. "It's a total different pitching."

1. Darvish vs. Napoli: Darvish said Friday he hadn't figured out an attack style for former teammate Mike Napoli just yet. He probably has by now. "I saw him a lot last year but I never imagined I would face him," Darvish said. "So I have to look at the video and really study him."

2. Rangers' offense improving: For all the talk about the inconsistent Rangers' offense, they do have at least 10 hits in nine of their last 15 games. They are batting .378 in the first two games against Boston.

3. Tickets remaining for Sunday: Sunday's marquee pitching matchup between Darvish and Boston's Jon Lester likely will be in front of a sellout crowd. Only 2,300 reserved seats remained for Sunday's matinee as of last night. The Rangers and Red Sox played before the third sellout crowd of the season (47,173) on Saturday night.