LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers thought they had put the final piece of their pitching puzzle into place when they acquired Yu Darvish at the trade deadline but it proved a false dawn as the Japanese ace put in another disastrous performance at the World Series on Wednesday.
For his second straight start of the series, the 31-year-old was unable to make it out of the second inning, giving up four earned runs in 1-2/3 innings and setting the Houston Astros on their way to a 5-1 victory in the deciding Game Seven at Dodger Stadium.
Darvish retired just 10 of the 22 batters he faced in his two World Series stars and finished the series with a unsightly 21.62 earned run average.
“It hurt the team,” Darvish said about his failure to make adjustments to his pitches between his two starts.
“This pain is going to stay in me for a while. I’ve just got to learn from it and just go from there.”
The Dodgers acquired the four-time All Star just before the July 31 trade deadline from the Texas Rangers, who in 2011 won the rights to negotiate exclusively with the right hander for a record $51.7 million posting fee.
Darvish was brought to Los Angeles to beef up the starting rotation, lighten the workload for ace Clayton Kershaw in the postseason and ensure the lefty got enough rest between his October starts.
Instead it was Kershaw who came into Game Seven to replace Darvish.
As if two poor starts was not enough, Darvish’s World Series nightmare was compounded by a racist gesture made by Houston’s Yuli Gurriel in Game Three.
After hitting a home run off Darvish to put the Astros ahead, the 33-year-old Cuban was caught on camera using his hands to make a slanted-eye gesture from the dugout.
For the second straight game at Dodger Stadium, Gurriel was booed loudly every time he came up to bat.
Gurriel, who apologized and was spared a World Series suspension, took off his batting helmet and nodded at Darvish in a show of respect before his first at bat on Wednesday.
Darvish took the high road after the incident, saying he had no hard feelings toward Gurriel for what he called a mistake by the Astros first baseman.
He said the incident did not have any impact on his performance on Wednesday.
“What happened didn’t affect me at all,” he said.
“It’s just in the first at-bat that Gurriel came up today, I just tried not to hit him and that’s about it.”
Darvish acknowledged uncertainty over his future as he enters free agency during the offseason but said he would like to return to Los Angeles next season.
“I would like to come back in the World Series and I want to pitch better,” he said.
“It’s tough, but personally I want to come back to the Dodgers.”
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Andrew Both