ARLINGTON Yu Darvish waited four years and came back from “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery to get his second major league postseason start Friday at Globe Life Park.
He breezed through the first inning, needing only eight pitches, but his undoing began soon after, with a leadoff second inning walk that preceded a two run homer by Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
That was just the first of four home runs allowed by Darvish, tying a MLB postseason discount jerseys
record. It happened seven times previously, but the most recent was by 37 year old Rick Reed of Minnesota against Oakland in the 2002 ALDS.
Darvish is 30 and ostensibly in the prime of his career, though he’s now 0 2 with a 5.40 ERA in two career postseason starts.
“It’s not like I was feeling bad,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “But I wasn’t feeling super good, either. And baseball, like in the regular season, you look back and things like this happen.”
In the postseason, however, pitching mistakes are magnified. Such was the case in Friday’s fifth inning, after Texas had pulled within 2 1 in the bottom of the fourth.
During a 16 pitch span in the fifth, Darvish allowed solo home runs by Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera and Edwin Encarnacion. Prior to Friday, the most home runs Darvish had allowed in a game was three.
“What it boils down to is a thin margin in these type of games,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “Four home runs and four unexecuted pitches.”
Toronto got only five hits during Darvish’s five innings, but on a day in which the Rangers outhit the Blue Jays 13 6 and left 13 runners on base, the home runs were the difference.
The second inning home run by Tulowitzki came on a 2 0 count. The others occurred on 2 1 counts. Naturally, all four home run pitches were fastballs because Darvish couldn’t afford to fall further behind in the count.
“He looked pretty good the first couple innings,” Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “Started missing some spots. We got beat by the homer today, and homers are pretty much mistake pitches.”
The Blue Jays didn’t face Darvish during the regular season, and Darvish missed all of 2015 because of the Tommy John surgery. Toronto’s unfamiliarity with him figured to an advantage for Darvish.
“We all know how talented he is,” said Tulowitzki, whose only previous at bat against Darvish occurred in the 2014 All Star Game. “He’s got good stuff. You see all those strikeouts.
“It was nice to get on top of him early, especially on the road.”
Darvish said he thought he had decent command of his slider, and he felt good about his mechanics. But when you tie a record for home runs allowed in a playoff game and do so in only five innings of work postgame self analysis seems like a good idea.
“Me and Lucroy, we need to talk,” Darvish said, through the interpreter. “Maybe we went too much on the fastballs today.”
Perhaps Darvish and Lucroy can learn from Game 2. Problem is, in order for Darvish to pitch again in this series, the Rangers must win Games 3 and 4 in Toronto, possibly leaving Game 5 in Darvish’s hands.
In all probability, though, Darvish will have to wait at least another year for career playoff start No. 3.