Texas Rangers

Darvish has lousy Series debut, but will still get paid

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yu Darvish leaves World Series Game 3 against the Houston Astros during the second inning Friday night.
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yu Darvish leaves World Series Game 3 against the Houston Astros during the second inning Friday night. AP

No matter if Yu Darvish had been reinvented since leaving the Texas Rangers, tweaking his mechanics and abandoning much of his pitching repertoire, the Houston Astros’ hitters knew him well.

They didn’t know Clayton Kershaw, whose curveball starts at their eyes before diving into the strike zone. They didn’t know Kenley Jansen, who gave them an opening with one massive mistake.

But they knew Darvish.

Some had seen him more than others but all had enough at-bats against him to know how his pitches move and what it takes to beat him. Jose Altuve entered with 32 at-bats against Darvish. Josh Reddick had 25. The fewest a hitter had was seven.

And, as has been the case, Darvish will beat himself. Even he has admitted to thinking too much on the mound, which can be detected by an even slower tempo than his already slow tempo.

Whatever forces combined against him Friday during his World Series debut, they acted swiftly. Darvish lasted all of  1 2/3 innings, allowing more hits than he recorded outs before getting manager Dave Roberts’ hook.

Darvish might start again in this Fall Classic, if his Los Angeles Dodgers can stretch it that far. They couldn’t put enough of a dent into the four-run hole Darvish put them in, and the Astros hung on for a 5-3 victory in Game 3.

Houston holds a 2-1 edge in the best-of-7 series with Game 4 set for Saturday here at Minute Maid Park. The Astros’ bats against Darvish’ flat pitches — he didn’t strikeout anyone for the first time in his career — put them in the driver’s seat.

Four of the six hits Darvish allowed were for extra bases, including George Springer’s leadoff double. The Astros went homer (Yuli Gurriel), double (Reddick), walk (Evan Gattis), double (Marwin Gonzalez), single (Brian McCann) in the second before the first out — a sharp liner to second by Springer.

Altuve doubled two batters later, and that was all Roberts could stand.

As Darvish left the mound, he left behind the feel-good memories from his starts in Games 3 of the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series. The dominating stuff he showed helped push the Dodgers closer to their first World Series since 1989 and pushed the price tag on Darvish’s next contract into another stratosphere.

Before he reached the dugout, talk about his failures on the big stage — five first-inning runs in his MLB debut in 2012, a homer-heavy Game 2 in the American League Division Series last year — suddenly made those in awe of his first two starts this postseason wonder if he’s worth they kind of money everyone assume he will get as a free agent this off-season.

While very good in the NLDS and NLCS, it’s not like he was throwing complete-game shutouts. He made it to the sixth in division series, allowing one run, and he allowed one run in  6 1/3 innings in the championship series.

Any postseason stage is big, but it’s not as big when a team holds a 2-0 series lead as the Dodgers did when handing the ball to Darvish.

He probably doesn’t get yanked from similar starts during the regular season, but maybe the Dodgers’ fancy numbers and terrific bullpen told them to quit while they were ahead. They seemed to know what it took to make Darvish better. It would make sense they know when he starts to slip.

No numbers had him slipping as early as he did Friday.

Speaking of numbers and slipping ...

Will his price tag drop this off-season to the point where the Rangers make a serious bid for him? Well, if they are concerned about Andrew Cashner accepting a $17.4 million qualifying offer, that seems unlikely.

Then there’s this: The guy is a really good pitcher. Even the best of the best will throw in a few duds during the course of a season, or even in the postseason.

All 30 teams would want Darvish in their rotation.

Even after Friday night, some team is going to pay him handsomely for several seasons.

But his World Series debut was a dud, though the hits the Astros collected were rockets.

They knew Darvish, reinvented by the Dodgers or not, very well.

Los Angeles

001

002

000

3

4

2

Houston

040

010

00x

5

12

0

Los Angeles AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Taylor cf

3

0

0

0

1

0

.111

Seager ss

3

1

0

0

1

1

.273

Turner 3b

4

1

1

0

0

0

.154

Bellinger 1b

4

0

0

0

0

4

.000

Puig rf

4

0

1

1

0

1

.167

Forsythe 2b

2

0

1

0

0

0

.250

a-Utley ph-2b

2

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Barnes c

2

0

0

0

0

0

.111

b-Grandal ph-c

2

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Pederson dh

2

1

1

0

1

1

.400

Hernandez lf

1

0

0

0

1

0

.333

c-Ethier ph-lf

0

0

0

0

1

0

.000

Totals 29

3

4

1

5

7

Houston AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Springer cf

5

0

1

0

0

1

.286

Bregman 3b

3

0

0

1

1

1

.231

Altuve 2b

5

0

1

0

0

2

.200

Correa ss

5

0

1

0

0

1

.286

Gurriel 1b

5

1

2

1

0

0

.250

Reddick rf

4

2

2

0

0

0

.364

Gattis dh

1

1

1

0

3

0

1.000

Gonzalez lf

4

1

1

1

0

1

.200

McCann c

4

0

3

1

0

0

.250

Totals 36

5

12

4

4

6

a-popped out for Forsythe in the 6th. b-flied out for Barnes in the 7th. c-walked for Hernandez in the 7th. E—Turner (1), Watson (1). LOB—Los Angeles 4, Houston 12. 2B—Turner (1), Pederson (1), Springer (2), Altuve (1), Gurriel (2), Reddick (1). HR—Gurriel (1), off Darvish. RBIs—Puig (2), Bregman (3), Gurriel (1), Gonzalez (2), McCann (1). SB—Forsythe (1). SF—Bregman. Runners left in scoring position—Los Angeles 3 (Taylor, Turner, Barnes); Houston 7 (Springer 2, Correa 4, Gonzalez). RISP—Los Angeles 0 for 7; Houston 3 for 14. Runners moved up—Seager, Hernandez, Puig, Altuve. GIDP—Seager. DP—Houston 1 (Gurriel, Correa, McCullers).

Los Angeles

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Darvish, L, 0-1

1 2/3

6

4

4

1

0

49

21.60

Maeda

2 2/3

1

0

0

1

2

42

0.00

Watson

1

2

1

0

0

1

18

0.00

Morrow

 2/3

1

0

0

1

2

13

3.38

Cingrani

 2/3

1

0

0

1

0

8

0.00

Stripling

1 1/3

1

0

0

0

1

15

0.00

Houston

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

McCullers, W, 1-0

5 1/3

4

3

3

4

3

87

5.06

Peacock, S, 1-1

3 2/3

0

0

0

1

4

53

0.00

Morrow pitched to 1 batter in the 7th. Inherited runners-scored—Maeda 2-0, Cingrani 1-0, Stripling 3-0, Peacock 2-2. WP—Peacock. Umpires—Home, Gerry Davis; First, Laz Diaz; Second, Bill Miller; Third, Dan Iassogna; Right, Paul Nauert; Left, Mark Wegner. T—3:46. A—43,282 (42,060).

WORLD SERIES

(Best-of-7; x-if necessary)

Houston leads Series 2-1

Tuesday: L.A. Dodgers 3, Houston 1

Wednesday: Houston 7, L.A. Dodgers 6, 11 innings

Friday: Houston 5, L.A. Dodgers 3

Saturday: L.A. Dodgers at Houston, 7:09 p.m.

Sunday: L.A. Dodgers at Houston, 7:16 p.m.

x-Tuesday: Houston at L.A. Dodgers, 7:09 p.m.

x-Nov. 1: Houston at L.A. Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.

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