ARLINGTON, Texas – It’s a pitching matchup that would make most baseball fans drool in anticipation.
On Wednesday night, two of the best pitchers in all of baseball will square off at Globe Life Park when Felix Hernandez and Yu Darvish take to the mound.
Over the course of a 162-game regular-season schedule, there are only a handful of times when two dominant pitchers like Hernandez and Darvish get to square off.
“You want to talk to me? For what?” Hernandez said, acting confused when reporters lined up to talk to him before Tuesday’s game.
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Well, this start against Darvish and the Rangers is kind of a big deal.
“It is?” said Hernandez, playfully.
Yes, yes, it is.
Of course, Hernandez (3-0, 2.11 ERA) knows that pitching against Darvish — a pitcher many experts predicted would win this year’s American League Cy Young Award — is special. Darvish (1-0, 0.00 ERA) finished second in last year’s voting. Hernandez won the award in 2010 and is always a candidate to win it.
But Hernandez has been around long enough to know better than placing too much emphasis on a regular-season game. He won’t be swayed by any possible hype.
“I just gotta do my job, that’s all I gotta do,” he said. “If he puts up zeroes, then I have to put up zeroes too.”
So there is no extra incentive pitching against Darvish?
“No, not really,” he said.
When reminded of how competitive he can be on the mound and how situations like Wednesday bring that out in him, Hernandez laughed.
“It happens,” he said. “I’m really competitive. That’s how I am. I’ve always been like that. Throwing against Texas pumps me up a little bit.”
The Rangers have hit him hard the last few seasons, and he’s more than aware of it. He has made 40 career starts against the Rangers and has a 12-20 record with a 4.18 ERA. Last season, he was 0-4 against Texas with a 7.57 ERA in five starts.
“They got me a couple times,” he said. “I owe them.”
Iwakuma takes another step
Hisashi Iwakuma threw a 55-pitch bullpen session Tuesday afernoon and was pleased with the outcome.
“I felt great today,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “I went into the bullpen like I usually do when I pitch a game, threw about 30-35 pitches and then had Jason Phillips throw me some signs so it was like pitching in a game. I was able to command pitches to both sides of the plate and keep the ball down. They released me from throwing the split-finger too and that felt great too.”
There was no pain when he gripped the split-finger fastball, something he worried about going into the session.
“There was a little bit because you have more stress when you split your fingers,” he said. “And with that first joint you do put more pressure there than on other pitches. But I felt no pain. And I was not worried about it all throughout the whole bullpen. So that was good.”
Iwakuma is next scheduled to throw a simulated game Friday in Miami.
“It’s a positive,” he said. “I look forward to the next step, facing hitters. So far everything has been good, everything has been smooth.”
Iwakuma knows he’s getting close to finishing the long recovery.
“It’s been a long process,” he said. “But I’ve been able to focus the last couple weeks now that I’m able to throw bullpens. I want to become part of the team soon. Hopefully that’s within a couple of weeks.”
• Logan Morrison is day-to-day with a tight hamstring. Morrison felt discomfort just moments before the first pitch of Tuesday night’s game.
• Dustin Ackley didn’t start Wednesday, but flew out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. M’s manager Lloyd McClendon said Ackley will play the next eight games in a row.
• Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on Wednesday. Players from every team wore Robinson’s No. 42.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373