Yu Darvish’s first Opening Day start for the Texas Rangers didn’t go according to plan.
Spotted to a 5-1 lead against Cleveland, an erratic Darvish didn’t figure into the decision as he couldn’t make it out of the seventh inning in the 8-5 loss to the Indians.
Darvish gave up just four hits, but walked five and uncorked two wild pitches on a night when just 56 of his 98 pitches were strikes.
“He was 16 of 27 first-pitch strikes,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “He was behind in nine counts. I think the five walks were really problematic for him. There were times his stuff was electric and times where he overthrew just a little bit and pulled some balls out of the strike zone.”
Darvish struggled with his command throughout the game, walking the second batter and also walking Cleveland’s No. 9 hitter Abraham Almonte twice.
Despite those issues, Darvish had a 5-1 lead to work with after three innings. But he allowed a two-run homer to Jose Ramirez in the fourth inning. He didn’t allow another hit until the seventh, when Yandy Diaz doubled off Darvish for his first major-league hit.
Then the lack of command caught up with Darvish again. Diaz went to third on a wild pitch and then scored on wild pitch as Darvish struck out Almonte, who was his final batter.
Even though he wasn’t as crisp as he wanted to be, Darvish was able to find positives in the start.
“I struggled throwing the strikes but at the same time I got some early outs early in counts so that was a positive,” he said. “I managed to go into the seventh so that’s something I was able to take as a positive.”
Darvish was able to keep the game in check, working around walks in each of the first two innings,. He was also able to protect what was then a 5-3 lead in the fifth inning with a big play. The Indians loaded the bases against him with no outs. He got Francisco Lindor to hit into a double play and then Michael Brantley to ground out to end that threat.
One thing that wasn’t an issue for Darvish was pitching on Opening Day.
“I didn’t have to think too much about it being the season opening,” said Darvish, who started season openers in Japan. “I just had to think about pitching just like it was any other game.”