Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish earned a place in Major League Baseball history in Game 2 of the AL Division Series on Friday.
Unfortunately for him, it was a dubious place.
Darvish matched an MLB postseason record by allowing four home runs in the 5-3 loss to Toronto, lasting only five innings and exiting with a career high in homers allowed in a game.
The Japanese right-hander left with the Rangers trailing 5-1 and forced then to go to the bullpen for the final four innings.
“Four unexecuted pitches is what it boils down to,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “I do think that where some situations in fastball counts that he tried to go with the off-speed stuff, didn’t hit the off-speed stuff. But what it boils down to is a thin margin in these types of games. Four home runs on four unexecuted pitches.”
The first homer came in the second when Troy Tulowitzki put the Jays up 2-0 with a shot to left after Darvish walked Jose Bautista.
With the Rangers trailing 2-1 in the fifth, three homers came fast and furious. Kevin Pillar led off with a homer. Two batters later, it was Ezequiel Carrera’s turn. Edwin Encarnacion capped the string with a two-out shot to left, and Darvish became the first pitcher since Minnesota’s Rick Reed in the 2002 ALDS to allow four homers in a postseason game.
It wasn’t the start the Rangers needed, especially after Cole Hamels lasted just 3 1/3 innings in Thursday’s 10-1 loss in Game 1.
“I was struggling with the strike zone and then was getting behind in the count and they were looking for fastballs,” said Darvish, who gave up only one hit that wasn’t a homer. “When I left it on the plate, they got it. So they did a good job on that.”
Darvish, who struck out four, struggled when he tried to overpower the Toronto batters. That normally led to elevated fastballs, which Toronto feasted on.
“If you can look at my previous games I’m not the kind of pitcher who always keeps the pitches down,” Darvish said. “Maybe in Japan if you leave the pitches up and you might see guys getting tired and all that stuff. But like here, sometimes a high fastball works. I don’t think I was getting tired and leaving fastballs up.”
The loss dropped Darvish to 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his two career postseason starts, with his other start coming four years ago in the 2012 wild-card game.
Despite Friday’s outing, Darvish’s teammates have confidence in their starter.
“He was pitching well,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “He just gave up a couple of home runs. I think he gave up five or six hits. The home runs is not what we expect from him, but we know those guys can hit.”