Yu Darvish has officially arrived in Major League Baseball.
Darvish, the prize offseason acquisition of the Texas Rangers, made his major-league debut on Monday night against the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. If you happened to see it, you'll know that it was hardly an ideal debut.
If you missed it, just know that Darvish struggled mightily early on before coming around as he went deeper into the game. The Texas offense did him a big favor by exploding for 11 runs, ultimately allowing Darvish to escape with a "W" in an 11-5 Rangers victory.
Read on for a full recap of Darvish's big (and rocky) evening.
Tweets of the Night
As you might expect, the buzz on Twitter surrounding Darvish's first big-league start was decidedly negative.
Eric Stangel, a writer for The Late Show with David Letterman, chimed in with a clever translation of Darvish's name:
5 runs in 3 innings. Apparently "Yu Darvish" is Japanese for "AJ Burnett."— Eric Stangel (@EricStangel) April 10, 2012
ESPN's Robert Flores provided a delightfully random Biz Markie reference:
"Oh baby You.. You Got What I Need" > Yu Darvish— Robert Flores (@RoFloESPN) April 10, 2012
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times pointed out that a certain former Rangers ace fared much better on Monday:
But hey, when it comes to baseball, a win is a win is a win. Darvish got one, and that's all that matters.
Scott Bell of The Dallas Morning News pointed out that that's also the problem:
By night's end, Yu Darvish will likely have a win and Justin Verlander does not. People who tout wins as key stats can stop anytime now.— Scott Bell (@sbell021) April 10, 2012
But naturally, the great Old Hoss Radbourn proclaimed that he's all for tradition:
The Protractor Society might point to Y. Darvish's 8 H, 4 BB, and 5 ER in but 5.2 IP, but we proud traditionalists see naught but a win.— Old Hoss Radbourn (@OldHossRadbourn) April 10, 2012
First Inning: Three walks, four hits, one wild pitch, four runs, two strikeouts
Darvish's first big-league inning could not have gone any worse. He couldn't locate his pitches to save his life, and he wasn't missing any bats when he did manage to throw strikes. It started with a quick walk to Chone Figgins and then got worse and worse. The natives grew more and more restless.
In the end, Darvish had to throw 42 pitches in the first, putting his team in a 4-0 hole.
First-game jitters? Maybe. Whatever it was, it was ugly.
Second Inning: Two hits (both doubles), one run, one strikeout
Darvish's troubles continued in the second inning. He didn't walk anybody, but his improved control led to more hard contact. Ichiro's double—his second hit off Darvish in as many innings—was smoked. So was Kyle Seager's double that brought Ichiro home.
It could have been worse. Seager made it to third on a passed ball, but Darvish was able to get Michael Saunders looking to end the inning.
Third Inning: One hit, one hit by pitch, no runs, one strikeout
Darvish started the inning by getting Miguel Olivo swinging and then managed to work around a single by Munenori Kawasaki and a hit batsman (Brendan Ryan).
Once the last two outs of the inning were in the books, you got the sense that he was finally beginning to settle down.
Fourth Inning: No hits, no runs, no strikeouts
Let the record show that Darvish's first career 1-2-3 inning came in the fourth inning of his first career start on April 9, 2012.
It was against the heart of the order, too. Darvish was able to get Ichiro to ground out, Justin Smoak to fly to center and Seager to fly to right. For his efforts, he received a nice applause.
Fifth Inning: No runs, no hits, one strikeout
Darvish's good work continued. He struck out Saunders, retired Olivo on a come-backer and forced Kawasaki to fly to center.
By the time the inning was over, Darvish had cruised through eight straight hitters.
Sixth Inning: One hit, one walk, no runs
Darvish quickly retired the first two batters by getting Ryan and Figgins to line out, but he ran into trouble after that. He walked Dustin Ackley and then gave up a single to Ichiro.
And that was that for Darvish. Ron Washington came out and put an end to his evening, and Alexi Ogando made sure no more runs were added on to Darvish's total.
Final Line: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO, 110 pitches (59 strikes)
Current ERA: 7.94
Current WHIP: 2.12
Darvish's first MLB start is essentially a tale of two different performances.
The first part consists of the first two innings he pitched. He couldn't locate his fastball consistently, and everything else suffered as a result. When he did manage to throw strikes, Seattle's hitters weren't fooled.
There's only one word that can be used to describe the first two innings of Darvish's career: disastrous.
But after that came the second part, which was much better. Darvish was locating his pitches, and he was able to keep Seattle's hitters off-balance. He looked much more like the ace a lot of people expect him to be.
This bodes well for Darvish moving forward. It was far from perfect, but Darvish's first start could have been worse.
If the Rangers stay on their regular rotation, Darvish's next start should come Saturday against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. It will be the first road start of his career.