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Baseball: Darvish shines as Asian hurlers launch season

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The near-flawless Yu Darvish -- who came within one out of achieving a rare perfect game -- was just one of the Asian pitchers launching his 2013 Major League Baseball campaign on Tuesday.

Darvish struck out 14 to lead the Texas Rangers to a 7-0 victory over the Astros in Houston, displaying a blistering fastball and a dazzling array of breaking balls in a dominant performance.

But his bid for the 24th perfect game in Major League history was foiled by Houston's Marwin Gonzalez, the 27th batter Darvish faced, who smacked a single up the middle that rolled between the pitcher's legs.

Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus couldn't stop it either, and with Gonzalez on base Darvish -- who had thrown 111 pitches -- was relieved by Michael Kirkman.

"I think my teammates were more disappointed than I was," said Darvish, who left the field to an ovation from the crowd of 22,637.

In Los Angeles, South Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-Jin made his highly anticipated Major League debut for the Dodgers and gave up three runs -- one earned -- on 10 hits over 6 1/3 innings in the Dodgers' 3-0 loss to San Francisco.

The 25-year-old Ryu agreed to a six-year, $36 million deal with the Dodgers after they bid $25.7 million to win the rights to negotiate with him during the off season.

Ryu, who had spent his entire seven-year professional career in Korea and helped his country earn gold at the Beijing Olymmpics, became the first player to go straight from the Korean League to the major leagues.

He struck out five and walked none, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly insisted he wasn't concerned at the number of hits surrendered by the newcomer.

"I think he's going to give up his fair share of hits," Mattingly said. "He pitched well, you're going to give up some hits now and then. It's not a concern."

The World Series champion Giants sent Madison Bumgarner to the mound. Bumgarner gave up just two hits over eight shutout innings, retiring 18 Dodgers in a row at one point.

In Oakland, Japan's Hisashi Iwakuma pitched six strong innings for Seattle, giving up one run on two hits while striking out seven in a 7-1 Mariners victory over the Athletics.

Michael Morse crushed his first two home runs of the fledgling season while Kyle Seager went 3-for-3 with two runs scored for Seattle.

Carter Capps and Oliver Perez combined for three scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Mariners.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130403/baseball-darvish-shines-asian-hurlers-launch-season