The 3-1 Seattle Mariners, finally back to regular baseball life after their strange early season schedule shaped around the Opening Series in Japan, kick off their series with the 2-1 Texas Rangers tonight. There is still a bit of a Japanese feel to this series opener, as the Mariners get the honor of being the first opponent to face Japanese superstar import Yu Darvish in Major League Baseball. Darvish is the Rangers $112 million investment to help boost the weakest link – starting pitching – of the club that has represented the American League in the World Series each of the last two seasons but come up short on both occasions.
Darvish, the tall, lean right-hander who struck out 11 Rockies in his final tune-up of Spring Training, K'd 21 in 15 innings in Arizona on whole, had a 1.99 ERA over his last seven seasons in Japan and features a deep arsenal of at least seven pitches. Subscribers can check out some video of some of those pitches – complete with pitch type and velocity readings – courtesy of LoneStarDugout.com's Jason Cole here. He runs a little more in-depth scouting report of what he saw on Darvish during an extended Spring Training stay here (also Subscriber content).
With Ichiro Suzuki and Munenori Kawasaki both in the lineup tonight and a reported 200-plus media credentials having been issued for the game, this game is sure to be the talk of the baseball world -- both here in the States and in Japan -- tonight and into tomorrow morning.
Can the Mariners continue their offensive success of the last two games, or will the mysterious Darvish shut them down?
Tune in to the game on ROOT Sports at 5:05pm to see.
You can also follow Jason Cole on Twitter at @LoneStarDugout.