Darvish is good enough in win

Dodgers new­comer again strikes out 10 but labors through five in­nings, 106 pitches.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Pe­dro Moura


PHOENIX — Yu Darvish did not dom­i­nate the Arizona Di­a­mond­backs the way he had the New York Mets in his Dodgers de­but. He re­peat­edly strug­gled to lo­cate his fast­ball within the strike zone Thurs­day night, stak­ing 10 Di­a­mond­backs to ad­van­ta­geous 2-and-0 counts.

What Darvish dis­played at Chase Field was still dom­i­nance — only of a dif­fer­ent sort. When he needed to throw a strike to avoid a walk, he pumped a strike. When the sit­u­a­tion dic­tated he elicit a swing-and-miss, he ex­torted a swing-and­miss. It’s more tor­tur­ous to be beaten by an op­po­nent not at his best, more dis­heart­en­ing to be de­feated by a com­peti­tor so clearly pro­cras­ti­nat­ing. The Di­a­mond­backs lost, 8-6, to a no­tably im­per­fect but unar­guably ef­fec­tive Darvish.

“When he’s ob­vi­ously not at his best and still goes five in­nings, strikes out 10,” Dodgers man­ager Dave Roberts said, “that’s ob­vi­ously en­cour­ag­ing.”

Arizona trot­ted out a rookie left-han­der named Anthony Banda, who was mak­ing his third ca­reer start. Banda, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s top prospect, turned 24 on Thurs­day. His cel­e­bra­tion did not last long, as Corey Sea­ger shot the game’s first hit to right in the

first in­ning.

Justin Turner then smashed a ball right to Di­a­mond­backs short­stop Ke­tel Marte, who could not glove it. Lo­gan Forsythe bat­tled back from a 1-and-2 count to draw a two-out walk. En­rique Her­nan­dez, also on a 1-and-2 pitch, dropped his swing to greet a low curve­ball and drive it into left field.

His bases-loaded dou­ble scored three runs.

At once it was clear that Darvish was not wield­ing his stan­dard com­mand. In the first in­ning, he threw three con­sec­u­tive balls to be­gin at­bats against David Peralta, A.J. Pol­lock and Paul Gold­schmidt, and two to Jake Lamb. The third pitch to Lamb also was be­low the zone, but Lamb chased it. Arizona chased of­ten. Peralta sin­gled, but Pol­lock and Gold­schmidt struck out swing­ing and Lamb flied out to cen­ter.

Af­ter Darvish set the Di­a­mond­backs down in or­der in the sec­ond, Ke­tel Marte started the third with a walk. Banda bunted him over, and a wild pitch al­lowed Marte to take third. He scored when Forsythe, the Dodgers sec­ond base­man, could not field a Peralta grounder in time. Darvish next missed with his first pitch but still struck out Pol­lock. He then left a cut­ter over the mid­dle to Lamb, who ripped it to right field, where Forsythe was per­fectly po­si­tioned in a shift.

Af­ter he struck out Gold­schmidt to be­gin the fourth, Darvish missed high with a fast­ball to J.D. Martinez, who launched an op­po­site-field home run. Two more sin­gles moved the go-ahead run to first base with two outs when Arizona man­ager Torey Lovullo pinch-hit Bran­don Drury for Banda.

Darvish found pin­point com­mand. He spun two tempt­ing slid­ers just be­low the zone, then hurled a fast­ball just above it. Drury swung and missed on all three pitches.

Chris Tay­lor am­bushed Arizona re­liever Jake Bar­rett in the fifth, wal­lop­ing his first pitch four rows into the left­field stands. A walk, an er­ror and two in­field sin­gles sup­plied the Dodgers two more runs.

Darvish is­sued an­other walk to be­gin the bot­tom of the fifth. As Pe­dro Baez warmed, Darvish nixed his fast­ball and in­tro­duced a slow curve into his pitch mix on the sug­ges­tion of pitch­ing coach Rick Hon­ey­cutt and struck out Pol­lock and Lamb. He then ben­e­fited from a border­line call on a slider to strike out Gold­schmidt. In one mo­tion, Darvish pumped his fist up and low­ered his glove, the in­con­gru­ous cel­e­bra­tion sym­bol­iz­ing his evening — in­ex­act but force­ful.

“I strug­gled to throw first­pitch strikes,” Darvish said through an in­ter­preter. “It was a battle through­out the game.”

In his la­bor-in­ten­sive five in­nings, Darvish walked two and struck out 10. No pitcher be­fore him had struck out 10 in each of his first two starts with the Los An­ge­les Dodgers.

Darvish’s 106 pitches were his most since June 7. It had been more than three years since he had thrown that many pitches in five in­nings or fewer.

In the Dodgers’ half of the sixth, Turner dou­bled in two runs.

Chris Ian­netta matched that in the bot­tom of the in­ning with a home run against Brock Stewart, one of five Dodgers re­liev­ers. Arizona man­aged two more runs against Bran­don Mor­row in the eighth, but Tony Cin­grani helped him out of a jam. Ken­ley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth, se­cur­ing his 30th save and Darvish his sec­ond vic­tory as a Dodger.

The re­main­ing ques­tion was why had Darvish not less­ened his fast­ball us­age ear­lier in the game.

“That,” Roberts said, “is a con­ver­sa­tion that might be had.”

Ross D. Franklin As­so­ci­ated Press

DODGERS SEC­OND BASE­MAN Lo­gan Forsythe, cen­ter, cel­e­brates with team­mates Justin Turner, left, and Corey Sea­ger af­ter all three scored on a dou­ble by En­rique Her­nan­dez in the first in­ning.

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