SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Intensity rose almost to regular-season levels in the third inning of Monday's Giants-Rangers Cactus League game when San Francisco cleanup hitter Buster Posey confronted Texas right-hander Yu Darvish.
One inning earlier, Darvish struck out Posey on three pitches. Their next confrontation promised to be more of an even matchup, since Darvish had just been rocked by Hunter Pence's RBI double and Posey would be batting with two on and two out -- the kind of situation that the reigning National League Most Valuable Player relishes.
Call the outcome even. Posey lined a 2-2 pitch to right field, where Mike Olt made a diving catch to save two runs. The Giants ultimately triumphed, 2-1.
Posey struck out in his final at-bat against ex-Giant Joe Nathan, but felt upbeat about his 0-for-3 afternoon. He particularly relished his matchup against Darvish, who finished 16-9 and made the American League All-Star team last year.
"That was a good one," Posey said. "Any time you get a chance to face a guy like him, even Nathan in my last at-bat, those are the ones you want to get in the spring because you want to see a guy's best stuff."
That's indeed what Posey experienced. Nathan, he said, struck him out on sliders, and the line drive off Darvish came on a slider.
"I saw my share of sliders, which is good," Posey said.
Before lining out against Darvish, Posey had to spin away from a high-and-tight fastball. But Darvish intended no malice. He appreciated the challenge of facing Posey.
"I was looking forward to facing him. I had heard he was a great hitter," Darvish said. "People were right. He is a great hitter."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.