Rangers’ Yu Darvish a tough test for Red Sox

Rangers ace Yu Darvish said he is especially looking forward to facing former teammate A.J. Pierzynski Friday night.
Rangers ace Yu Darvish said he is especially looking forward to facing former teammate A.J. Pierzynski Friday night.(MARK J. TERRILL/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Yu Darvish has started 67 games for the Texas Rangers since coming over from Japan before the 2012 season. But only two of those starts have come against the Red Sox.

Now the Sox will get another look at the ace righthander on Friday night in the first game of a six-game trip.

Darvish last faced the Red Sox on May 5, 2013, at Fenway Park. He struck out 14 with just two walks but allowed three runs over seven innings in a game the Rangers won, 4-3.

The other start was Aug. 6, 2012. Darvish went 6 innings, allowing six runs on 11 hits. The Sox won that game, 9-2, at Fenway. Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez each drove in three runs for the Sox. They were traded to the Dodgers, along with Josh Beckett and Nick Punto, 19 days later.

Two Sox players know Darvish especially well. Mike Napoli caught him 10 times in 2012 and A.J. Pierzynski 17 times in 2013.


Pierzynski was catching last April 2 when Darvish gave up a single with two outs in the ninth inning to lose a perfect game against the Houston Astros. Pierzynski also was behind the plate on Aug. 12 when Darvish took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Astros.

Pierzynski was ejected from that game in the sixth inning for arguing with plate umpire Ron Kulpa after Darvish walked a batter.

Pierzynski and Darvish exchanged words on the mound during a game against Oakland last Sept. 4. Although both players and manager Ron Washington downplayed the incident, Pierzynski did not catch Darvish again. Pierzynski then signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox in the offseason.

On Wednesday, Darvish acknowledged his eventful relationship with Pierzynski and his eagerness to face him.

"Yes, I'm very looking forward to it. We went through so many things," he told reporters via an interpreter. "In September, we fought on the mound. There are so many things that I went through, but overall we get along very well. I'm looking forward to it."

Darvish said the situation wouldn't change much for him.


"I'll do what I always do, talk with my coach and my catcher to get a plan. I'll try to do my best without thinking too much of who I'm facing," he said.

Pierzynski returns to Texas on a hot streak. He is 13 of 36 (.361) in his last 10 games with four extra-base hits and nine RBIs. His work with the pitching staff has been solid in recent weeks. In the last nine games he has caught, Red Sox starters have a 2.56 earned run average.

Coming home

Clay Buchholz, a native of Nederland, Texas, is the scheduled starter Friday night for the Red Sox. After a rocky start of the season, the righthander has allowed four earned runs over 13 innings in his last two starts. Buchholz is 1-3 with a 3.30 ERA in five career starts against the Rangers . . . Xander Bogaerts won’t be the youngest player in uniform on Friday. The Rangers called up 20-year-old infielder Rougned Odor from Double A Frisco before their game against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday . . . The Red Sox are 6-4 in the 10 games Shane Victorino has played since coming off the disabled list.

Rested and ready

Righthanded reliever Edward Mujica hasn't pitched since May 2 and has made one appearance in the last nine days. He felt pain on the right side of his rib cage while warming up on Saturday but has since been cleared to pitch. Manager John Farrell acknowledged that Mujica needs a better-defined role in the bullpen . . . The Red Sox are 14-29 against the Rangers over the last five seasons, 6-16 in Texas . . . Through Wednesday, Napoli was sixth in the majors with a .417 on-base percentage. He has reached base safely in 28 consecutive games and 30 of the 31 games he has played this season. Napoli averaged 0.32 strikeouts per plate appearance has last season en route to a team-record 187 whiffs. He has cut that down to 0.23 this season and already has walked 23 times.

Out for a walk

The annual Mother's Day "Walk in the Park" will be at Fenway from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. Fans can walk around the warning track, sit in the dugouts, and join in child-friendly activities. Former Sox players Ted Lepcio and Bob Montgomery will be on hand along with Wally the Green Monster. The three World Series trophies will be behind the plate for photographs and a 2013 Series ring will be on display. The event will be held rain or shine.


Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.