The death of a thousand streaks.
It was bound to happen eventually. Another streak seized up and fell. Ran its course. Died.
Actually, several streaks came crashing down last night, which may be just as well since a good friend told me a couple days ago that he’s tired of reading happy stuff in this space.
After a run in which Yu Darvish’s Game Scores did nothing but improve, last night’s effort dropped off a bit from his previous start.
Even ignoring the Bill James metrics, on the most basic levels Darvish’s game in Toronto didn’t live up to the gem he threw last week against the Yankees. He didn’t pitch into the ninth. He didn’t fan 10. He didn’t keep the Jays off the scoreboard. For the first time in the big leagues, he didn’t even cross the 100-pitch threshold before Ron Washington turned things over to the bullpen.
Either Darvish’s streak of homerless baseball or Toronto DH Edwin Encarnacion’s run of games going deep was going to fall, and Encarnacion won that battle. The former Rangers draft pick, chosen when Darvish was 13, homered for the fourth straight game, and in doing so became the first big leaguer to circle the bases on a Darvish pitch.
It broke up a no-hitter with two outs in the fourth. That wasn’t cool.
The Texas righthander’s draw of opponents had gotten more formidable each time out, and that streak, too, was snapped.
But, man, one streak that’s still alive is that Yu Darvish is awesome at baseball.
The 25-year-old saw the Jays lineup three complete times last night. Twenty-seven batters.
Twenty of them saw strike one.
When your arsenal includes seven or eight different pitches, strike one is a particularly beautiful thing.
In his Rangers debut, Darvish delivered strike one 47 percent of the time. His next time out, he improved to 50 percent. Next time: 50 percent again. The time after that, last week’s start against New York: 64 percent. Last night: 74 percent.
Finally. A streak that survived.
Of Darvish’s 21 outs last night, three were made by outfielders. Two were infield pops. Seven were recorded on the ground. Nine were strikeouts.
Punching out nine and needing only 97 pitches to do it is sorta crazy.
Think back to Darvish’s debut. He had given up four runs having recorded only one out. His ERA stood at 108.00.
Since then, he’s given up four runs in 32.2 innings.
That’s a 1.10 ERA.
Stated another way?
Darvish permitted four runs in his first eight big league batters faced.
Darvish has permitted four runs in the 138 batters he’s faced since then.
Texas is now 17-6, good for its second-best April ever and good for baseball’s best record at the moment. Darvish has started five of the seventeen wins and none of the six losses.
But he’s failed to contribute to 12 of the Rangers’ victories or done anything to prevent those six losses, and that’s something I’m just going to have to get over while I continue to put in the work to try and come up with some negativity to satisfy my buddy and those others among you in need of a little baseball angst.