Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka's first MLB meeting was one for the ages

The first major league matchup between Japanese pitching stars Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka was among the most anticipated of the season once it was made official this week.

Once they reached the rain-soaked hill at Yankee Stadium on Friday night, they lived up to the hype and then some, combining for one of the best pitching duel’s we’ve seen not only this season, but in recent baseball history.

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Despite a rain delay of just over an hour and less than ideal conditions, both pitchers came out sharp and got even sharper as the game went along. Darvish pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out 10, before leaving the game with tightness in his triceps. Despite that, he’s expected to be fine for his next start. On the other side, Tanaka pitched eight scoreless, allowing three hits and striking out nine.

Keep in mind, these two aces also have two of the best offenses behind them. Darvish’s Rangers and Tanaka’s Yankees both came in top 10 in MLB in both home runs and runs scored, but both were completely shut down as the overpowering right-handers combined for an outing that’s been equaled in dominance only one other time in MLB history.


You think these guys wanted it bad?

Darvish and Tanaka met three times previously in Japan, and it appears they have a history of bringing the best out of each other. In their most recent matchup in Japan, which came all the way back on July 20, 2011, they each pitched a complete game with Darvish and his team getting the win 3-1.

Rangers starter Yu Darvish (left) and Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka (right) met for the first time in MLB. (AP Photos)

There would be no individual bragging rights on Friday. Both were saddled with a no-decision as the game remained scoreless into the ninth inning. Tanaka and the Yankees ended up walking off with a 2-1 win on Ronald Torreyes single in the 10th inning.

Results aside, both pitchers had plenty to hang their hat on as they did something that’s never happened before when Japanese pitchers met in MLB.


This was to be the 15th time that Japanese-born starters opposed each other in the majors. The first one came at the old Yankee Stadium, when Hideki Irabu went against Seattle’s Mac Suzuki on May 7, 1999.

Of all those matchups, and some have been very good, none matched the firepower Darvish and Tanaka provided on Friday. It was a lot of fun to watch.

Now, here’s hoping it doesn’t take another six years  for the next rematch.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!