The Safeco Field jinx that sacked Yu Darvish during his rookie season last year appears to have relented some after the right-hander didn’t allow a hit Friday night over his final five innings.
And that pesky finger issue also held up just fine on a chilly night under the retractable roof.
But the jinx was still working its voodoo in the first inning, and another problem for the Texas Rangers was that Darvish wasn’t the game’s most effective Japanese starting pitcher.
Hisashi Iwakuma allowed one run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings, and Seattle jumped Darvish for three first-inning runs en route to a 3-1 victory over the Rangers.
Darvish yielded two first-inning runs in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels, but he said he was fortunate to yield runs only in the first inning against Seattle.
“As far as the Angels game goes, it took me a little while to get started,” Darvish said. “But as far as today’s outing goes, I could have given up many runs in any inning. I just didn’t have my good stuff today.”
Darvish entered the game 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA in his first two career starts at Safeco Field, and left it 0-3 with a 7.15 ERA after his third.
The loss was first of the season for Darvish (2-1) in three starts, and the first of his brief major-league career in April (6-1). The good news, however, is that he threw 108 pitches in six innings without aggravating the skin issue on his right ring finger.
“Not at all,” he said.
The Mariners did all of their damage against Darvish in the first.
Darvish hit Jason Bay with one out to start the rally, uncorked a wild pitch to move Bay to second, and surrendered a single to Kendrys Morales. Morales had been 0 for 13 with eight strikeouts against Darvish.
Raul Ibanez followed with a single for the game’s first run, and Kyle Seager doubled off the glove of first baseman Mitch Moreland two batters later to drive in both runners.
“I had no feel for my fastball,” Darvish said. “I didn’t feel right in the last outing, and it carried over. At least I was able to keep us in the game.”
The Mariners had only two base runners the rest of the game against Darvish, who had eight strikeouts to boost his season total to 28. After hitting Bay for a second time and walking Morales to start the third, Darvish retired the final 12 batters he faced.
“He just had trouble with his command, particularly with the fastball,” manager Ron Washington said. “He just had trouble early.”
The Rangers’ offense had even more trouble against Iwakuma (2-0). He retired the first nine Rangers before Ian Kinsler started the fourth with a home run. Kinsler, who also singled in the sixth, has three career homers against the right-hander.
Kinsler reached third in the sixth with one out, but Iwakuma got Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre to pop out to end the inning.
The Rangers went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven runners.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but he had it going,” said Berkman, who went 0 for 4. “He was throwing pitches to the corners of the strike zone, and he had a really good split going. He threw a great game.”