Missed Yu: Victorious return for Darvish

Missed Yu: Victorious return for Darvish

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister answered multiple questions about Yu Darvish after a 5-2 Rangers victory over the Pirates on Saturday night. His final words went directly to the point.

"Look, he showed up [as] Yu Darvish tonight," Banister said at the end of his postgame news conference.

That sums it up. After 14 months of recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, after all the checkups, workouts, bullpen sessions and rehab starts, that's what happened on Saturday.

Darvish showed up before a sellout crowd and pitched like he had never been away. The only tangible difference was that the outing was a little shorter than normal, but other than that, Darvish looked to be at his best in holding the Pirates to one run in five innings. He walked one, struck out seven and left after 81 pitches.

"Physically I could go more innings, but mentally I was done," Darvish said.

Darvish said he wasn't nervous being on a Major League mound for the first time since Aug. 9, 2014. He said his first rehab assignment was a much bigger deal. He also didn't express any extra elation about getting his first win since July 28, 2014.

Darvish fans seven

"I'm not going to be satisfied with one outing," Darvish said. "I've got the rest of the season to go."

Darvish said he won't consider himself all the way back until he can throw 100-plus pitches in a game and not be limited by a pitch count.

"He had a pitch count ... we talked about it," Banister said. "We felt, right where he was, we didn't want to push it. A warm, humid night, a lot of excitement, he used a lot of energy out there. We felt we were at the point where it wasn't worth it."

The fastball stood out, at times hitting as high as 98 mph. The Rangers wanted Darvish to use his fastball more, and he used some variation -- straight, sinker, cutter -- approximately 75 percent of the time.

"Just how explosive the fastball was," Banister said. "Just watching the reaction of their hitters, our catcher Bobby Wilson, the movement on his [sinker] on his down angle and how he was able to use his secondary stuff. His fastball played up and allowed his other stuff to play up. It was a very impressive, competitive night for Yu."

First baseman John Jaso was the only Pirates player to have more than nine career at-bats against Darvish, and he led off the game with a single on the second pitch. But Darvish retired the next three hitters to get out of the inning and 12 of 13 overall to take a 4-0 lead into the fifth.

He gave up a leadoff single to Francisco Cervelli, a stolen base and a two-out single by Cole Figueroa for his only run allowed. But he brought his night to an end by striking out Jaso.

"He looked good," Jaso said. "He looked like he was doing his normal thing, where he throws fastballs usually the first time through the lineup and then he starts dropping this in, and this in, and all that stuff. It looks like he's his normal, dominant self.

"One thing that he was doing well today was working the ball down, he was painting at the knees really, really well today. I think that was the biggest thing he had going for him besides the velo. You mix those two together and it's pretty tough."

Not bad for a guy who hadn't been in a Major League game in almost 22 months.

"I think Darvish is going to be OK once he knocks the rust off," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle cracked.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.