I was not able to watch the game live tonight. So after the game, I fired up the DVR and watched only the innings that Darvish pitched. The first thing I noticed was that Jeter jumped on his first pitch. I thought for sure that Jeter would try to work Darvish more in his first at bat. I guess he was looking for a fastball.
The second thing I noticed was that Darvish went after the Yankee hitters all night. He challenged them with his fastball and established it for strikes. Out of his 119 pitches, he threw 82 strikes. 68% of his pitches were strikes. The best example of his intripedness was in the top of the 3rd inning. After a single, a walk, and a bunt by Jeter, the bases were loaded. So instead of nibbling around the edges, he started Granderson with a fastball for a called strike and six pitches later he stuck him out looking. Now one down and bases still loaded. Darvish comes after Rodriguez with fastballs and induces a double play. Out of the inning.
The third thing I noticed in watching Darvish was how much sharper his pitches were. His slider and curveball had more movement. After establishing his ability to throw strikes, he was able to entice the patient Yankee hitters to chase pitches that moved out of the strike zone. The best example was in the top of the seventh facing Jeter with Martin at first base after he singled to right field. Darvish gets ahead of Jeter 0-2. His next pitch is a cutter that moves out of the strike zone. Jeter flinches to swing but he doesn't. Darvish comes back with the same pitch and this time, Jeter swings and misses the ball as it trails away out of the strike zone. Because of the sharper pitches that got the Yankee hitters chasing, he set a new high for strikeouts by a Rangers pitcher with 10 strikeouts.
The fourth thing I noticed was that Darvish only walked two batters. In fact, he only went to three balls in a count three times. In his previous starts, he walked 4 against Seattle, 4 against Twins, and 5 against the Tigers. The lack of walks and 3-X counts kept his pitch count down so that he could pitch in the ninth inning.
The fifth thing I noticed was that Darvish saved the bullpen since tomorrow the Rangers will be starting Scott Feldman, the long reliever. Feldman is pitching in order to get Harrison his full rest after pitching in the doubleheader on Saturday in Detriot. So if Feldman is not sharp, we have the full bullpen available.
The last thing I noticed, which has nothing to do with how Darvish pitched, was how loud the crowd sounded. Well, Darvish's pitching kept most of the over 47,000 in the ballpark through the end of the game. New experiences. Sellouts in April that are not Opening Day. That is great.