One true indication that Yu Darvish has returned to the Texas Rangers’ rotation is that the pace of play grinded to a halt.
Good thing that game started at 6:15 p.m. A 7:05 p.m. start would have put deadlines in serious jeopardy.
Darvish, though, wasn’t entirely to blame. Pittsburgh Pirates starter Juan Nicasio needed 36 pitches in the Rangers’ three-run first and had thrown 105 pitches in 4 2/3 innings when he was finally yanked.
His walk off the mound was about as slow as he pitched.
But that’s the only complaint anyone could have about Darvish. Well, he probably could have done better against No. 9 hitter Cole Figueroa, a .188 hitter who walked one four pitches and singled in the only run against Darvish.
But those are the only complaints.
Here’s some more Rangers Reaction from Yu Darvish Day on Saturday in a 5-2 win.
1. Darvish is back. Not all the way back, but back.
The Rangers, true to their word, stuck to their pitch count and yanked Darvish after five innings and 81 pitches. They said on Tuesday that he would be limited to 85 or 90 pitches in his first start following Tommy John surgery 14 months ago.
But the stuff was there. The velocity was up — way up to 98. The slider was as sharp as it was pre-surgery. The swing-and-miss was there.
The Rangers will take it, obviously, even in five-inning increments. It’s not always going to be five innings. For the first time out and maybe the next couple, though, that might have to do.
I think when I can pitch around 100 pitches and be just fine, that’s when I can say I’m back.
And that’s fine. The Rangers believe they will be playing in October, and they want Darvish in their postseason rotation. Of course, they have to get to October first, so managing Darvish’s innings could become a delicate task.
For now, the best thing to do as a Rangers fan is hope that Darvish feels good Sunday and Monday, and is slated to start Friday on five days’ rest. One start at a time might be cliche, but it’s going to be the way of life for the Rangers and Darvish the rest of this season.
At least initially, it might be five innings at a time. And that’s fine.
2. The most amazing thing to me at this point in Adrian Beltre’s career is that there are people who actually continue to think his resume for the Hall of Fame is incomplete. The only thing incomplete is that he hasn’t been retired the requisite five years to be on the ballot.
He added another notch to his belt in the first inning, hitting a two-run homer that gave him 1,501 career RBIs. Only 53 others players in MLB history have done that, and only three other players whose primary position was third base.
You see the names on the board. Some of the names that he’s moving on by, knowing that he’s going to continue to play, look, he’s a great player.
Jeff Banister on Adrian Beltre
That trio includes Chipper Jones (1,623), George Brett (1,596) ad Mike Schmidt (1,595). Two of them are in the Hall of Fame, and Jones will be. Beltre should be No. 1 in third basemen RBIs by the time he retires, which won’t be until at least after the 2018 season.
He’s a double away from tying Ivan Rodriguez (572) for 25th all time.
Beltre should get to 3,000 hits after finishing Saturday at 2,817. Don’t rule out 500 homers. He needs 78 more.
Beltre, though, said that he’s not chasing numbers and won’t chase numbers. If he decides to retire and is sitting on 499 home runs, he’s not coming back for one more.
He won’t need 500 homers to cement his Hall of Fame resume. He’s already in.
3. Where’s Joey Gallo, folks on the Twitter have been asking? They got their answer Saturday afternoon with the prospect was optioned back to Triple A Round Rock after four games with the Rangers and a whopping one pinch-hit opportunity.
The steam was rising out of my phone, disbelief that Gallo would be brought up to sit. I’ll paraphrase:
What a waste to have the slugger miss out on at-bats. How could the Rangers be so short-sighted when they have Prince Fielder — hello? — and Mitch Moreland — anyone there — still in the lineup? Why? Why? Why?
Jeff Banister, the guy who makes the lineup, had the answer: It would have been unfair to Gallo and hurtful to the team to put Gallo at positions he either has barely played this season (first base) or not at all (left field).
It’s not like it was a complete waste. Gallo got a chance to be around the big-league coaches and in the clubhouse to get a feel for what things will be like for when he does return again, and hopefully plays.
These things happened to guys on the 40-man roster who have minor-league options remaining. The Rangers needed two position players Monday when Shin-Soo Choo and Drew Stubbs went on the disabled list. Gallo was one of them.
That’s baseball. It happens.
Gallo might not come back without a significant injury to Moreland or Fielder, who continue to get the chance to break out of their funks. First base looks to be where Gallo will break into the majors on a full-time basis, with the Rangers re-signing Moreland, a free agent after the season, looking more unlikely than ever.
Also keep in mind that he’s 22 and won’t be 23 until November. Being in the minors isn’t going to hurt him at all. It’ll probably help him. Just like sitting on the Rangers’ bench four games isn’t going to hurt him and probably will help him.