By Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
NEW YORK — The New York Yankees were delighted to see Masahiro Tanaka go toe to toe with Yu Darvish.
An even better sight was watching Ronald Torreyes deliver the game-winning hit.
Tanaka pitched eight scoreless innings during his first major league appearance against Darvish and Torreyes singled with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, lifting the Yankees to a 2-1 win over the Texas Rangers.
Although Tanaka took a no-decision and is winless in his last eight starts since May 9, he looked more like the pitcher who tossed a three-hitter at Fenway Park while opposing Chris Sale on April 27 than the pitcher who began the game with a 6.34 ERA.
“Everything,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of what was working for Tanaka.
Tanaka allowed three hits, threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of 27 hitters and retired 16 straight at one point from the third to the eighth.
Darvish was even better, though he exited after the seventh because of triceps tightness. Darvish said he began feeling it in the fourth inning but said he should be able to make his next start.
Before exiting, Darvish tied a season high with 10 strikeouts and allowed two hits. Two of his strikeouts were to slugger Aaron Judge, who struck out on a 72 mph curveball in the first and a 95 mph fastball in the seventh.
“They were two brilliant Japanese pitchers that had faced off before, been stars in the Japanese league and they’re stars here,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said.
It was the 15th game in major league history involving two pitchers from Japan. Seven of those games have involved the Yankees and three occurred against Darvish, who opposed Hiroki Kuroda in 2012 and 2013.
“We both pitched great,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “So there may be something, but I was trying to focus on my pitching.”
While it was the first time Darvish and Tanaka faced each other in the majors, it was the fifth overall matchup. They opposed each other four times in Japan, and in the last meeting on July 20, 2011, both pitchers went the distance.
“It was amazing,” Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve said. “We were waiting for it and we know he has it, so it was great to see.”
After Tanaka and Darvish were finished, the Yankees won for only the second time in 10 games when Torreyes lined a 98 mph fastball from Matt Bush (3-2) up the middle.
It was the first career game-ending hit for the infielder, who raised his arms, dropped his helmet and was lifted by a teammate after reaching first base.
“Super happy to able to get a hit in that inning,” Torreyes said through an interpreter. “It’s great.”
Before Torreyes won it, the Rangers were two outs from getting a 1-0 victory when Elvis Andrus scored on a passed ball by Gary Sanchez while Adrian Beltre struck out against Aroldis Chapman.
Instead, Brett Gardner tied it by hitting a 2-1 fastball from Bush into the right-field seats. After Gardner’s 14th home run, Aaron Judge chopped a single up the middle just out of shortstop Andrus’ range.
The Yankees were unable to get the winning run as Bush struck out Matt Holliday but won the game after Shreve (2-1) worked out of a bases-loaded jam by getting Andrus on a popup after striking out Joey Gallo with two on.
The game was delayed one hour and 42 minutes, but it was worth the wait for the 39,602 fans at Yankee Stadium and fans watching in Japan 13 hours ahead of New York’s time zone.