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Hard-throwing Verlander, Darvish downplay pitching duel
MLB » Pitching showdown recalls days of Ryan and Clemens.

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Darvish can hit 95 mph and beyond, but the Japanese star is known more for varying speeds on his fastball and an array of pitches that had him within an out of a perfect game in his first start of the season at Houston.

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"I saw him pitch last year a couple times," Verlander said. "I know he’s striking out the world this year, but other than that, I haven’t seen too much."

By their standards, both starters are coming off subpar games.

Darvish gave up two home runs and fell behind 3-1 in a rematch with the light-hitting Astros, but improved to 6-1 when the Rangers rallied and won 8-7 despite a leaky Texas bullpen. He "only" had eight strikeouts in seven innings after getting 14 for the second time this season in his previous start. He’s had at least 10 strikeouts four times.

Verlander had his worst outing of the year in a 7-6 loss to Cleveland, giving up six hits and four runs — three earned — in just five innings. He walked a season-high five and struck out seven.

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Still, Verlander (4-3) has the edge over Darvish in ERA, 1.93 to 2.73.

"When I made the decision to come to the big leagues, I knew that I was going to be facing a lot of great pitchers," Darvish said through an interpreter. "I wasn’t just thinking Verlander but there are many other great pitchers as well."

And Verlander isn’t just thinking Darvish, or big matchup, especially this early.

"You don’t need to get too amped up, especially for a game in May, and try to do too much," Verlander said. "That’s the wrong way to approach it."

Washington sees the same approach from his prized ace-in-the-making.

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