Bittersweet First Victory for Darvish: Bested By Ichiro

Darvish and IchiroDarvish (left) gave up four runs in his first inning; Ichiro (right) went 3-for-4 against him and is coming in to score. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Bittersweet First Victory for Darvish: Bested By Ichiro
Yomiuri Shimbun:
Kai Nishimura reporting April 10, 2012

Box Score

Did Yu Darvish “have it” during his first major league victory, like his former teammate Yuki Saito did for the Nippon Ham Fighters on his own opening day this season?

Frankly, it looked like the number one pitcher in Japanese baseball was overcome by nerves.

In the first inning, he walked the leadoff hitter, Figgins, on a fastball that was way outside. After getting an out, he faced Ichiro, the #3 hitter. On a two-and-two count, Ichiro hit a ball safely past the third baseman, getting Darvish deeper in trouble. But Darvish’s control didn’t return to him then, either; instead, he threw more bad pitches that got crushed. He even walked Kawasaki with the bases loaded to allow a fourth run in his very first inning.

Ichiro hit a double to right his next time up in the second inning, [grounded out in the fourth, and] singled in the sixth, which forced Darvish out of the game. All the hits the Mariners got on Darvish were off his two-seam fastball, the pitch that had been his lifeline in America so far. After his third exhibition game on March 19, he had said the pitch was really responding well – “it really moves, and I feel like even my teammates hate it” – and he used it most of the times he needed an out pitch. He couldn’t get a handle on it this time, though. In fact, all his pitches were a little wild.

His other great pitches, like his curve, weren’t going where he wanted them to, either, so it’s safe to say he hasn’t completely adjusted to major league ball yet. Darvish came here after relentlessly polishing his stuff in Japan. Given today’s painful experience, one is left wondering how close he is to attaining his goal of becoming the Greatest Pitcher in the World.

Explore posts in the same categories: Japan, Sports, Translations, USA

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