Surprise, Ariz. Yu Darvish struck out four in two innings of the spring opener for Texas, and Prince Fielder hit a towering solo homer as the Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals, 11-7, on Thursday.
Darvish, who led the majors with 277 strikeouts and was second in the AL Cy Young Award voting last season, threw 23 of 29 pitches for strikes. His first pitch to all eight batters he faced was a strike.
“I think it worked out very well,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s pitchers meetings, and I think (pitching coach Mike) Maddux is going to praise my performance. ... There’s a lot of life to my fastball, a lot of movement on my slider.”
The Rangers struggled at times last year to score runs behind Darvish, who was the first pitcher since 1989 to have four 1-0 losses in the same season.
“Hopefully we can turn that around,” Fielder said.
Texas led 4-0 before Darvish’s final pitch in the Cactus League opener, and never trailed.
Royals: Bruce Chen, going into his sixth season with Kansas City, allowed two runs and four hits in two innings. The Royals had errors on consecutive plays behind him, making one of the runs unearned. The left-hander threw 18 of 26 pitches for strikes.
Rangers: Alexi Ogando is scheduled to start for Texas in today’s game against the Royals — this time with Texas as the home team in the complex they share.
Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison threw for the first time in 11 days, from about 120 feet on flat ground.
“My back felt great. Everything felt really good,” Harrison said.
Harrison made only two starts last season before two operations on a herniated disk in his lower back. He had been sidelined by neck and back stiffness.