HOUSTON (Reuters) - Yu Darvish had a nightmare of a World Series debut on Friday as the Japanese right-hander was sent to the showers early by a Houston Astros offense that hit everything the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher threw their way.
The Astros were hitting pitches from the four-times All-Star like it was batting practice and chased him from the game before the end of the second inning en route to a 5-3 victory that gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“The fastball command wasn’t there, and the slider was backing up,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “So he just really didn’t have the feel and couldn’t get any type of rhythm going.”
Darvish was being countered on to deliver a solid outing since he had plenty of success at the Astros ballpark, where he made many trips since breaking into the majors in 2012 having pitched five seasons for their cross-state rival, the Texas Rangers.
The 31-year-old Japanese entered the game boasting a 4-1 record and stellar 2.16 earned run average in his six career starts at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.
He was also in fine form this postseason having won both his starts prior to Game Three, while allowing just two runs in 11-1/3 innings.
But pitching on baseball’s biggest stage proved to be an entirely different story for Darvish as Houston’s vaunted lineup were squarely hitting nearly everything he sent their way.
“They were taking good swings, obviously taking good at-bats against him,” said Roberts. “But it just goes to the fastball command and the breaking ball just wasn’t there are tonight.”
Darvish allowed a double to the first batter he faced but then seemed to settle down as he retired the next three batters he faced to get out of the inning.
But his night took a massive turn for the worse when he returned to the mound and could only watch as Yuli Gurriel led off the second with a laser over the left field wall.
Marwin Gonzalez and Brian McCann then hit consecutive run-scoring singles before Darvish finally registered his first out of the inning.
But the bleeding was not yet over as Alex Bregman hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Gonzalez and put Houston ahead 4-0. Jose Altuve followed with a double to left field that finally marked the end of Darvish’s night.
In the end, Darvish left the game having surrendered four runs on six hits and a walk through 1-2/3 innings in which he threw a whopping 49 pitches.
“It looked like he was out of sorts based on how he’s pitched in the last month,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
“I think our discipline, our approach was very, very, very refined to just getting a good fastball to hit once we thought his slider and cutter weren’t as effective.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty