Three starts won't wind up meaning all that much when Yu Darvish's Rangers career comes to an end, but it certainly felt like a big outing when Darvish took the mound in Detroit on Thursday night.
He wasn't so awful in his first two starts that you questioned what made the Rangers sign him in the first place, but he also wasn't so good that you would say that he justified the outlay of cash. He looked pretty average, really, and expectations were much higher than that. Seeing as how those two starts came against the Mariners and Twins, it was worth wondering what the Tigers offense would do to him.
Nothing, as it turns out.
The self-described four-color pen picked an ink that worked marvelously at Comerica Park. He pitched into the seventh inning and held the Tigers to two hits and a run despite struggling with his command at points.
Unlike the first two starts, there weren't many of those points. His breaking ball was filthy, generating five strikeouts, and Darvish's fastball was in the zone 62 percent of the time after falling short of 50 in his first two outings.
Most encouragingly, Darvish was death to left-handers. They tuned him up at a .368 clip in the first two starts, but Tigers lefties managed just one hit in 10 tries on Thursday night. Three of those outs came on consecutive at-bats in the fourth with runners on second and third with no one out while the Rangers were clinging to a 2-0 lead. Stepping up in a tough situation is something else we didn't see from Darvish in his first two games, so there was a lot of growth.
Put it all together and it's a recipe for great success going forward. That doesn't mean there won't be more hiccups on the way, but Darvish clearly has the stuff to succeed in the major leagues. Frankly, it would be more alarming if he had two starts like Thursdays and then a bad one than the other way around.
Everyone needs a little bit of time to adjust to new surroundings and it looks like Darvish is acclimating just fine.