For $60 million in salary and a $51.7 million posting fee to his former Japanese team, Yu Darvish came to America last season.

And now all of baseball knows what the Texas Rangers knew:

He’s worth every yen.

In the first outing of his second major league season, Darvish came within an out of adding a historic chapter Tuesday night. Twenty six Houston Astros came up and 26 were set down before Marwin Gonzalez grounded a sharp single through Darvish’s legs and into center field.

With Darvish’s pitch count at 111 pitches, manager Ron Washington called on reliever Michael Kirkman to get the final out of a 7-0 Rangers victory.

Nothing was lost in the translation on this night, however. The crowd at Minute Maid Park, which had been standing throughout the final inning, gave the Japanese star a standing ovation as he walked off the mound.

Darvish had come one out shy of the franchise’s first no-hitter since Kenny Rogers’ perfect game on July 28, 1994.

But in some ways, his performance was even more dominating than Rogers’. Darvish struck out 14. Rogers fanned eight in his gem.

Disappointing? The groan from the 22,673 who were there in Houston seemed to say so.

Yet, Darvish has been throwing strikes and overpowering hitters all spring. In four official spring training starts, he allowed only eight hits. And in his final tuneup last week, an exhibition against a Mexico City team, the right-hander threw 52 pitches, 42 for strikes, and allowed only one soft single in four innings.

He is more than capable, in other words, of duplicating Tuesday’s performance — with an even happier ending.