Texas Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish flirted with perfection Monday. He didn’t attain it, but he instead appears willing to settle for consistent excellence.
On Monday, Darvish took a perfect game to the sixth inning of an eventual 8-4 win over the Kansas City Royals. He walked the No. 9 hitter on a very close call with two outs in the sixth to snap the bid for the perfect game, then allowed three consecutive hits, ruining his chance at a no-hitter and a shutout, too.
When it was over, though, Darvish had pitched seven innings. He allowed just the three hits, which accounted for three runs. It was his fourth consecutive start in which he pitched into or through the seventh and allowed three or fewer runs.
In addition, he’s allowed just one homer total in those four starts. In the last three starts, he’s had between eight and 10 strikeouts and one or two walks.
Monday’s start wasn’t just one impressive outing; it was the continuation of a trend of domination.
“What I’m seeing is relaxation,” manager Ron Washington said. “He’s not contemplating anything. He’s getting the ball, believing in himself and going. He had a lot of energy and had a lot of fun out there.”
Mixing his pitch repertoire exceptionally well, Darvish allowed only two balls out of the infield in the first five innings while compiling five strikeouts. He got the first two outs of the sixth before walking No. 9 hitter Johnny Giavotella. The walk snapped a streak of 24 consecutive batters retired by Darvish, dating back to his previous start.
“At the time, I really wanted that pitch,” he said through an interpreter. “I tried to throw it right down the middle. But after the inning, I went and looked at video. I saw it was barely a ball. That just shows you that umpires are very good. … I don’t think it affected me. The pitches that followed weren’t bad pitches. They just got enough of them. I think it’s coming together.”
Darvish became the fourth Japanese native to have a 14-win season in the majors, joining Hideo Nomo (four times), Daisuke Matsuzaka (two times) and Kazuhisa Ishii (once). Darvish needs 12 more strikeouts to become the third Japanese pitcher to reach 200 in a season. Nomo accomplished it four times and Matsuzaka once.
via The Sports Xchange