In Cliff Lee’s first start as a Ranger, the Orioles took him deep in the fourth inning.
And the fifth.
And the sixth.
He hadn’t given up three home runs in any other start all year, and in fact it had happened only once in the previous three years.
Yu Darvish had no feel for his fastball yesterday. That’s it. He didn’t have it getting loose in the bullpen, he didn’t have it in the first inning or the second or the third, and he put himself into rocky situations that he managed to wiggle out of for the most part, thanks to a sharp array of breaking balls and Yorvit Torrealba’s pop time.
Darvish threw more balls (32) than strikes (29), and it wouldn’t be shocking if that never happens again in his Rangers career, or at least crops up as infrequently as a three-homer game off of Cliff Lee.
I’m also betting now that there will never be a Darvish start in which the offense gives him a seven-run lead that he doesn’t lock down, and that none of you would take me up on that bet.
There’s no sense in overreacting to what happened yesterday. The work that Robbie Ross (excellent) and Engel Beltre (what-the??) did in the eighth inning were more important in terms of performance results to take away from Wednesday’s game, televised for our consumption and over-analysis.
Don’t wipe next Monday’s start against the Brewers off your DVR to-pull list. Yesterday was a hiccup, something from which Darvish can and will learn from and adjust. Opportunities for him to work off something that didn’t go exactly as planned in March should, in the big picture, set things up for a smoother April through September, and October.
If yesterday’s result counted, we could talk about how Darvish’s ability to minimize the damage and the Rangers’ efficient offense combined to keep intact the righthander’s 49-0 lifetime record in games in which he received at least four runs of support. But it didn’t count, outside of giving Darvish a chance to experience bad things to fight through, a not-unwelcome part of the process of figuring out how to beat Major League lineups and become the best pitcher to ever come here from Japan and maybe the best something-else.
I don’t have time this morning to unpack the back fields notes I planned to share from yesterday, but I’ll get to those eventually. I’d probably have gotten to them if I didn’t spend too much time commenting on a Darvish effort that I sit here suggesting shouldn’t be overanalyzed, and for that I apologize and will get myself out to the chain-links in a bit for another morning of players being developed outside the grab of the spotlight.