For the first time in his big-league career, Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish successfully withstood the sixth inning. He even managed to record one out in the seventh...not too shabby. Darvish ducked and dodged danger all night long in the unfriendly confines (for Texas at least) of Detroit's Comerica Park.
To be honest, I've been a tad apprehensive about Yu Darvish. He walks too many batters, and his command has been lacking. I guess, for me, it dates back to his inaugural big-league outing...
The air was cool and expectations were high on the evening of April 9th. Yet rather than a stellar outing from Darvish, I was comforted only by cold beer and carefully guarded conversation. It took approximately one hundred dollars worth of suds (about six beers) to stave off the pangs of acute letdown.
Sure, I didn't think Yu Darvish would throw a perfect game or anything like that. But I sure as heck didn't think he'd be down 5-0 after one inning to the lowly Seattle Mariners for crying out loud!
I expected some command and control issues too; this is his first season in the bigs and he's only 25 years old. What slapped me silly in his first start (as well as his second) was just how hittable he was.
Over 11.1 innings, spanning his first two starts, Darvish surrendered 17 hits and nine walks. Ouch. When you look at it that way, it's hard to comprehend that he still had a sub-5.00 ERA and was 1-0 heading into last night's series opener against the Detroit Tigers.
Darvish did manage to walk five Tigers, but he matched his season high in strikeouts as well, with five. And as far as "hittability" was concerned, he was easily at his best.
Darvish definitely needs to work on the free passes. I guess if you're only surrendering two hits, though, then giving up a walk or two won't hurt you (or your team) too much.
A two-out single to Don Kelly in the second inning and a fourth-inning double to Delmon Young were the only knocks the Tigers could muster during Darvish's 6.1 innings pitched.
Superstar sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder failed to record a hit off of Yu. It's also worth noting that the Tigers had only lost once at home in six games...until last night's 10-3 drubbing at the hands of Darvish and the Texas Rangers.
The bottom line on Yu Darvish is that he's 2-0, with a 3.57 ERA and has displayed dazzling stuff with an innate ability to minimize damage in high-leverage situations.
Sure, he got lit up by the Mariners, but he was also lights out against the second-best offense in the major leagues. If he continues to improve while cutting down on the walks, the Texas Rangers can rejoice in knowing that they have a possible ace, and at the very least, an upper-tier No. 2 starter.
And who wouldn't be happy with that?