ARLINGTON, Texas — Yu Darvish overcome a rocky start and got a big boost from the powerful Texas lineup, winning his much-anticipated major league debut in the Rangers' 11-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
After giving up four runs while throwing 42 pitches in the first inning, then allowing another run in the second, Darvish (1-0) settled down and later retired 10 in a row while pitching into the sixth.
Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer in the third for Texas to tie the game at 5, then Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton both went deep in the fourth to give Darvish an 8-5 lead. Ian Kinsler added a three-run blast in the eighth.
Darvish was Japan's top pitcher before the Rangers committed more than $107 million to acquire him, including his guaranteed $56 million, six-year contract. Despite the early struggles in his first start, the 25-year-old right-hander is undefeated in Texas.
After No. 9 batter Brendan Ryan was hit by a pitch with one out in the third, Darvish retired the next 10 batters before Dustin Ackley walked and Ichiro Suzuki singled with two outs in the sixth.
When manager Ron Washington replaced him with Alexi Ogando – who struck out Justin Smoak to end that inning – Darvish got a loud ovation from the crowd that was also chanting "Yuuuuuuu!" as he walked to the dugout without acknowledging the cheers.
Darvish struck out five and walked four while throwing 59 of his 110 pitches for strikes. He gave up eight hits.
Seattle starter Hector Noesi (0-1) only made it into the fourth. The right-hander was gone after Mike Napoli drew a leadoff walk and Moreland followed by pulling a 382-foot homer down the right-field line for a 7-5 lead.
Noesi struck out three and walked three and gave up six hits in his three-plus innings.
Darvish got off to a tough start in the game, walking leadoff hitter Chone Figgins on four pitches before striking out Ackley.
Suzuki then blooped a single just over third base, and Justin Smoak lined a single to right before Kyle Seager's two-run single. Another walk and an RBI single by Miguel Olivo reloaded the bases before Munenori Kawasaki, an eight-time All-Star in Japan who was the only Mariner to previously face Darvish, walked on four pitches and put Seattle up 4-0.
Michael Young and Cruz had consecutive two-out RBI singles in the first off Noesi, but Seattle got another run in the second when Suzuki doubled and scored on a double by Seager.
Darvish, 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in 167 games in Japan's Pacific League the past seven seasons, got out of the second when Michael Saunders took a called third strike. Darvish then got on a roll in the third before the Rangers' big bats put him in the lead.
Cruz, the ALCS MVP last October, got his first homer of the season when he pulled a liner into the left-field seats right after Hamilton was called out at home trying to score on Young's grounder.
Hamilton argued briefly with home plate umpire Paul Nauert, and replays showed that the slugger might have slid around catcher Olivo's tag.
There was no doubt about Hamilton scoring in the fourth, his second homer of the season a solo shot over the center-field wall off rookie right-hander Erasmo Ramirez.
That was the only run allowed in three innings by Ramirez in his major league debut.
Notes: Ogando, a 13-game winner and All-Star as a starter last season, went 1 1-3 innings. He has appeared in three of four games, with 3 1-3 scoreless innings. ... Neftali Feliz, the Rangers' closer-turned-starter, makes his first start Tuesday night against Seattle. He faces right-hander Blake Beaven, the former top prospect for the Rangers who was traded to Seattle two seasons ago in the Cliff Lee deal.