Yu Darvish is a heat-fueled beast.
The temperature at first pitch on Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was a balmy 103 degrees, which marked the first start for Yu Darvish in the true searing Texas summer heat. After the first inning, there was cause for concern as the Detroit Tigers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. After that, Darvish threw aside any concerns and rolled through the next six innings en route to his AL-leading 10th victory, striking out 10 and walking one on 113 pitches.
"It seemed like the longer the game went, the better he got," manager Ron Washington said after the game. "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."
Did he ever. Darvish has made a habit of getting stronger as games go on. After his Tuesday start, just take a look at his past three outings now and the final inning of those starts, the seventh, eighth and eighth, respectively. In those final frames, Darvish has seven strikeouts and two groundouts in 1-2-3 fashion. On Tuesday night, in the sweltering heat, he threw a 94 mph fastball in the seventh.
"My teammates tell me it's still not as hot as it's going to get," Darvish said through his interpreter. "I didn't feel like I was overwhelmed by the heat."
Good thing too, as that's long been the concern about pitching in Texas in the suffocating summer temperatures. But in recent years, guys like C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis have done their part to help eliminate that stigma.
It's safe to say now, Rangers fans. Say hello to your new ace.