Mark the day in your calendar, or your mental rolodex: April 24, 2012.
That will forever be the day that Yu Darvish became the ace the Texas Rangers were hoping they were signing back in January, after they spent in excess of $50 million just for the right to talk to the Japanese pitching phenom.
After three mediocre to good starts, Darvish was absolutely dominant and great on Tuesday against one of the best lineups in all of baseball and a team that had won its last five meetings with the Rangers, including Monday's drubbing of Derek Holland.
Darvish went 8 1/3 innings, striking out 10 (nine swinging) with just two walks, scattering seven hits. He had racked up well over 100 pitches through eight innings but Mike Maddux and Ron Washington had the confidence to send him back out for the ninth inning and a shot at his first-career MLB shutout.
Washington made the right call to remove him after a one-out single from Nick Swisher because before the hit he had been wild on the first two pitches of the at-bat and was clearly losing a little. But when he exited, the Rangers crowd let Darvish know their appreciation, and he reciprocated with the traditional tip of the cap and a wave. The game ended with a one-pitch save from Joe Nathan, who induced a game-ending double play for the Rangers' first shutout win over the Yankees since August 2000. Yup, let that soak in a little. What a start from Darvish.
He showed it all. His slider was unhittable. His curve was filthy. His three different fastballs were touching the high 90s, running away, running in, the whole nine yards. Most importantly, you could tell he relished the moment and the spotlight of pitching against the most storied franchise in all of baseball, in all the world.
He pumped his fist in celebration as he walked off the mound after ending the seventh inning with a low cutter to Derek Jeter, he pumped his fist and pointed at Adrian Beltre after his double play ended a bases-loaded, no-out jam early in the night — the only real trouble Darvish got into.
Simply put, Darvish was phenomenal. And if the Rangers get their way, Tuesday's game will always be remembered as the day the Rangers finally had their bona fide ace that was set to be in Arlington for more than three months.