With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, baseball fans across the country watched as Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish lost his shot at a perfect game, giving up a hit up the middle.
As heartbreaking as it may have been for the young pitcher, Darvish’s performance showed MLB fans why his name will soon be mentioned among the best pitchers in the league. As he took the mound against the Houston Astros Monday night, Darvish displayed no signs of the dreaded sophomore slump that many feared he would. Sure, it’s just been one game in a very long season, but with his performance tonight, he showed that he’s got the talent to make the jump from a great pitcher to an elite one.
In the end, Darvish pitched 8.2 innings, gave up a single hit , and struck out fourteen batters.
Last season, Darvish’s rookie season, he entered the league with incredibly high expectations. In his first game with the Rangers, it looked as though the hype was all for naught as Darvish was absolutely rocked in his debut, giving up eights hits and five earned runs in just 5.2 innings of work. Nevertheless, he eventually managed to live up to those lofty expectations, finishing the year with a 3.90 ERA and racking up an impressive 221 strikeouts, the seventh best in the league.
Sure, Darvish may have just barely missed out on a perfect game and a no-hitter, which is admittedly heartbreaking for anyone but the Astros and their fans, but Yu Darvish forced the rest of baseball to take notice tonight. No longer does he just have the potential to become great, he’s well on his way. That is, if he can put this disappointment out of his mind and move on.
It will be interesting to see how he responds, but I have a feeling he’ll be just fine.