Saturday, April 14, 2007

Darvish Watch: Episode 4

This season has seen an explosion from Yu Darvish, with back-to-back 14 strikeout performances and a newfound confidence on the mound. He just looks different. His body is more mature, and muscular. His stare from the mound is more intense. His leg drive and follow through are more sharp and assertive. It stands to reason that the lowly Rakuten Eagles would stand no chance against the dashing ace pitcher of Nippon Ham.

The first inning saw a two out single by left fielder Koichi Isobe, followed by an inning ending strikeout of cleanup man Jose Fernandez. A leadoff walk in the second was erased on a double play ball to short and another strikeout. A two out single in the third was erased on a pop out to catcher. The fourth inning saw Darvish in about as much trouble as he would gave all day, as two singles had the Eagles on the board first with a 1-0 lead, but the bleeding stopped there with another double play.

Darvish cruised from the fourth inning on, striking out the side in the fifth and sitting down the Rakuten batters in order 1-2-3 in both the sixth and seventh. Meanwhile, a two run bottom of the fifth had given the Fighters' ace a slim lead to work with and he made it count. From the RBI single he gave up in the fifth inning, Darvish retired 15 of the final 16 batters to face him, including 6 strikeouts. Nippon Ham's offense shut the door with a 4 run outburst in the bottom of the 8th against Rakuten reliever Matsumoto. In the end, it was a one-sided affair that was only competitive if you believed that the boys from Tohoku ever stood a chance in the first place, which I didn't.

Darvish went all 9 innings for the third consecutive start, throwing 114 pitches. That's a per inning average of 12.7 pitches, and a dominating tally. He allowed 5 hits and walked one, striking out 9. Darvish is now 2-0 on the season with a 2.18 ERA and some very impressive ratios. Click below to enlarge the game log:

1 comment:

Tully said...

God, Darvish is just hurling this year. It's a shame that so few are aware of this kid, and it's even sadder that he seems to have no interest in being posted to the US when the window of opportunity arises. Maybe he'll change his mind and come over on for a few mercenary seasons to advise US fans that Daisuke-san isn't the only good Japanese pitcher. My guess is that our future relations with Iran shall be the true dealmaker/breaker.

Good work, Mike!