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TEX@COL: Darvish fans 11 over six frames vs. Rockies

When the Mariners visit the Rangers on Monday night, the focus will be on one player and one player alone. And for more than 100 million reasons.

That would be Yu Darvish, the Japanese pitching sensation who is set to make his Major League debut against Seattle before the intrigued eyes of millions of baseball fans, players and officials.

Everyone wants to see how good the polished, prized, 25-year-old right-hander from Japan will be in a regular-season setting. Darvish impressed in Spring Training, striking out 21 batters in 15 innings, but that was Spring Training.

It's game on in the United States, and for Darvish, it will be memorable. When asked about what he's expecting and if it reminds him of how he felt when he began his career in Japan, he expressed a keen desire to make it seem as normal and in his routine as possible.

"I do recall a little bit my debut as a professional," Darvish said through an interpreter. "With this debut, I'm trying to stay on an even keel and approach it like any other start."

Darvish also said he isn't quite where he wants to be as far as conditioning and command of his stuff are concerned.

"I have worked in Spring Training to prepare myself for this, but I'm still not 100 percent, like I will be in midseason," he said.

For the Mariners, Darvish will be a new face ... for most of their players. Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, a Japanese legend in his own right, had two unofficial at-bats against Darvish in warmups for the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and '09, and backup infielder Munenori Kawasaki faced Darvish in Japan, but everyone else will be seeing the 6-foot-5 righty for the first time.

Meanwhile, the Mariners will be featuring a debuting pitcher of their own. Hector Noesi is no Major League stranger, but he will be toeing the slab for his first regular-season start in a Seattle uniform. Noesi was acquired in the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade with the Yankees and earned a No. 3 starter's role with a strong spring. He started two games for the Yankees last year while working primarily out of the bullpen.

"All my career I've been a starter, and I've been preparing to be a starter in the big leagues," Noesi said. "It's a lot more different for me being in the bullpen than being a starter."

Noesi was asked what he thought about facing the Japanese phenom, and he shrugged.

"I don't know him, you know?" Noesi said. "Who knows what is going to happen. But I wish everybody the best. We all work for that."

As for Darvish, Monday's big league lid-lifter will provide some early answers for those with questions about the man who cost Texas over $100 million before even throwing a Major League pitch. And Darvish also will get a chance to pitch to Ichiro, whom he admired while growing up in Japan.

"He's a great baseball player in Japan and the United States, and I'll be looking forward to it and enjoy facing him," Darvish said. "But ... I can't really talk about enjoyment. I have to think about ways to get him out. And I would like to go after him and try to get him out."

And what about the buzz that will surround this game, from here all the way to Japan?

"The attention, that's something I'm not going to think about too much," Darvish said. "The only thing I'll think about are the same old tactics to get those hitters out."

Mariners: Montero makes club history
• Jesus Montero has started all four of the Mariners' 2012 games at designated hitter. He became the first rookie in club history to start at DH on Opening Day, and the first in the Majors since Ken Harvey for Kansas City in 2003. The club record for starts by a rookie at DH is 52 by Juan Bernhardt in 1977.

• Shortstop Brendan Ryan was scratched from Saturday night's game in Oakland with a stiff neck, and Kawasaki got his first start. Mariners manager Eric Wedge said it didn't seem like a big deal.

"He just slept wrong," Wedge said. "With an off-day [Sunday], I don't want to push it. I don't want one day to turn into a week or three or four days, so it's my call on that one."

• This will be Noesi's first appearance in Arlington, although he faced the Rangers once last year, throwing 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball while allowing one hit on June 16 in Yankee Stadium. He gave up a leadoff double to Elvis Andrus in the seventh, then intentionally walked Josh Hamilton before getting Michael Young to hit into a double play and striking out Adrian Beltre to hold the 2-2 tie in a game the Yankees wound up winning, 3-2, in 12 innings.

"I pitched against them once," Noesi said. "But I don't think about that one day."

Rangers: Murphy off to extra-good start
• Outfielder David Murphy has hit safely in each of the season's first three games, and he did so in style Sunday, by thumping a solo homer. The hot start to 2012 -- he's hitting .556 on the young season -- comes after he started just three of the first 10 games in 2011.

• Second baseman Ian Kinsler opened a season with back-to-back multihit games for the first time in his career. Between Friday and Saturday's games, he hit for the cycle, all within the first three innings of the games. On Sunday he was 0-for-2, but reached base twice via walks.

• Monday will be the third of five straight night games for Texas. The Rangers' .614 winning pct. (70-44) in night games in 2011 was the best in the American League and second-best in the Majors to Philadelphia (.622, 69-42).

Worth noting
• Eighteen of the Mariners' first 27 games this season will be played on the road (and 28 of the first 43). Seattle will play eight road games before playing a game at Safeco Field.

• Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba led the Rangers with 95 games behind the plate in 2011, the second-highest total of his career. Comments