Saturday, April 07, 2007

Darvish Watch: Episode 3

Could Yu Darvish break the schneid and post a win in his third time out? He would have to be his very best against the team I'm picking to win the whole enchilada this season, SoftBank. The Hawks sent to the mound Kazumi Saito in an attempt to nullify the Nippon Ham advantage. Saito has become the heir apparent to the Sawamura Award in Japan, having narrowly edged Matsuzaka in most statistical categories last season. He is a fine pitcher with good size and a deceptive delivery, but I have always felt that he is lacking something, despite the great numbers. He pitches effectively down in the zone with both his fastball and nasty fork. His curve is sometimes a difficult pitch for batters to recognize. The main drawback to Saito's repertoire, in my opinion, is the lack of velocity. He generally pitches in the 88-89 mph range with the low fastball and then drops the velocity with a hammer of a forkball. It looks just like the low fastball, but it dies a horrible death along with the batters that can't lay off.

Darvish and Saito are a contrast in images. Saito looks as if he has a perpetual chip on his shoulder about something, while Darvish sports dyed-brown idol-esque hair, a tan, and a very laid back expression. Both are ace pitchers, and this was a very good game.

Saito started off very rocky, allowing 3 runs in the top of the first to Nippon Ham, handing over a great cushion for the young Fighters #1 starter. Saito was angry with himself, and knew the kind of bind he'd worked for himself, as Darvish wouldn't surrender much, even to the stacked Hawks' lineup. A series of hits in the bottom of the first, stole back one of the runs from Nippon Ham and it looked as though the SoftBank boys might get more, but it wasn't to be. Darvish went 1-2-3 in five of the final eight innings, including three swinging strikeouts to retire the side in the 7th. Ten of the last fifteen outs he recorded were of the strikeout variety on his way to a back-to-back 14 K outing. SoftBank managed to threaten again in the 8th inning, scoring a run on a couple of hits and a ground out, but the pressure didn't get to our hero and he ended the inning with a strong performance against the heart of the Hawks' order.

Finally a win. The final tally for Darvish was 9 innings complete, 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 earned runs, and 14 strikeouts. The season has jumped off to a fast start for the 20-year old and we'll be ready for his next outing in just a week. Come back for more, Darvish fans.

1 comment:

Andos Calrissian said...

Thanks for setting this up. I have been looking for someone to draft in my keeper fantasy baseball league and follow this year and perhapds for a few years on my taxi/minor league squad. When my pick comes around, I'll be taking Darvish. Keep it up.