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Matchup Should Draw League-Wide Interest

Yu Darvish and Justin Verlander go head-to-head on Thursday

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish.

    When the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers kick off a four-game series in Arlington on Thursday, it won't just be two of the top teams in baseball going against each other with the look of two serious AL pennant contenders.

    In fact, those two teams make up the AL pennant winners of the last three seasons with the Rangers winning it in 2010 and 2011 and the Tigers taking it in 2012.

    No, it won't just be a big matchup between two great teams, it'll also be one of the top pitching matchups this season in all of baseball as the Rangers will send Yu Darvish to the mound to battle Detroit ace Justin Verlander, who's arguably been the game's top pitcher for a few years now.

    As big as the matchup might be on paper, Darvish, in true Darvish fashion, downplayed the pitching matchup when speaking through an interpreter on Tuesday in Oakland.

    "Not particularly, because I won't be hitting against him," Darvish said. "If that were the case, I'd be looking forward to it. I'm just going to be pitching, and I'm focused on pitching my game."

    So far, Darvish's game has been pretty darn good. He leads the universe with 80 strikeouts so far this season and is 6-1 with a 2.73 ERA. He also leads the league in hits per nine innings (5.1) and strikeouts per nine (13.7), a stat usually led by relief pitchers.

    Verlander, well, Verlander's list of accomplishments speaks for itself. MVP, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young — you name it, he's done it. Oh, and add Kate Hudson to his list of accomplishments, too. This year, he's got a 1.93 ERA through eight starts and is striking out 10 per nine innings.

    It's that kind of stuff that Darvish aims for in his career, well maybe not the Hudson thing, but again, in true Yu fashion, he downplayed what he's done so far this season because he actually has an ERA.

    "The number of wins and the number of strikeouts, I'm not really concerned about," Darvish said. "That's something I have to look back to once the season's over. Since my ERA is not 0.00, that's what I have to improve on. I'm just making sure I'm healthy to throw for the rest of the season."

    If Darvish could actually achieve that 0.00, that'd be fantastic, but for now we'll take what he's done so far.

    And regardless, we'll all get treated to a great baseball spectacle on Thursday night in Arlington with two pitchers near the top of their games.