Yu Darvish suffered through his worst outing of the year on Monday night against the Seattle Mariners in Safeco Field. This is unusual, because a) Darvish has been really good, b) the Mariners offense is pretty lousy, and c) Safeco Field is a dream park for pitchers. The final line for Darvish was four innings pitched with four hits and six walks allowed against 5 strikeouts, giving up five runs, four of which were earned. On the other side, Felix Hernandez held up his end of this expected pitcher’s duel, going eight innings and allowing just one run.
Darvish has now faced the Mariners twice, with less than stellar results. His ERA against the Mariners is now 8.37, compared to 1.94 against the rest of his opponents. In his first start against the Mariners, Darvish struggled in the first inning, allowing four runs. After that, he settled down to go an additional 4.2 innings with only one additional run surrendered. In his second effort against Seattle, Darvish was inconsistent throughout the game, never able to find his groove.
The main issue Darvish ran into was his control, particularly with his fastball. On certain at-bats, such as the first batter of the game, it appeared Darvish was locating every pitch precisely where he wanted to. He flashed moments of having complete command in the strike zone. For much of the night, however, his control was not there, tallying a season high total of six walks, as well as falling behind in the count with regularity. The Mariners wisely showed patience, letting Darvish dig himself into holes that he could not climb out of.
Darvish had been the only starting pitcher on the Texas Rangers to avoid having a truly ugly outing. Tonight, the much heralded star from Japan showed that he isn’t bulletproof, or Superman. The Mariners even wore their sea foam green uniforms, which kind of look like kryptonite. Darvish’s 3.05 ERA and 10.1 K/9 rate for the season are the best among the Rangers starters, but his 5.1 BB/9 rate is the worst on the team, and is well off of where Darvish and the Rangers would hope he would be.
Tomorrow night, the Rangers will look to Derek Holland to pitch deep into the game to avoid the bullpen having to carry a heavy workload on back-to-back nights. With Neftali Feliz going to the DL, and the Rangers having played 18 games in the last 18 days, the whole roster could use a little extra rest. The team’s off day on Thursday will certainly be a key time to gain some rest for the weary.