“I want people around the world to say that Darvish is the world’s best pitcher.”
So said Yu Darvish on January 24, 2012, in front of more fans in the Sapporo Dome, where he’d pitched his home games for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters for seven seasons, than showed up nightly in St. Petersburg for Rays-Rangers two weeks ago.
Darvish beat Matt Moore and the Rays in the third of those three games, 8-2, a game in which he battled through command issues but got an unusually healthy dose of run support from the Texas offense.
The next time Darvish faces the Rays and Moore faces the Rangers will be the first weekend in April. Both go today with the task of extending their clubs’ season beyond 162, and even if that happens for both, the next time Darvish and Moore’s turns come around one of their teams will have been eliminated.
But they may be in their respective dugouts in Arlington tomorrow night, or Tuesday afternoon, or Wednesday night.
Darvish started the 2012 season (and his Major League career) dramatically, going four-pitch walk/strikeout/single/single/single/wild pitch/walk/single/bases-loaded walk to the first eight Mariners he faced, allowing Seattle to take a 4-0 lead before he recorded the second out of the ballgame . . . and battling through it to earn a win.
Darvish ended the 2012 season dramatically, getting lifted inexplicably from what was then a 2-1 deficit to Baltimore in the seventh inning of the Wild Card Game, having thrown only 91 pitches without so much as one walk (6.2-5-3-2-0-7).
Darvish started the 2013 season dramatically, coming one Marwin short of a perfect game, as he went 8.2-1-0-0-0-14 against Houston in what was the first of the Rangers’ 17 wins in 19 games against the Astros, every one of which they have needed to get to this point.
Dramatics will be fine, but I’m not interested in Darvish’s season ending today.
Or Elvis Andrus’s. Or Leonys Martin’s or Martin Perez’s. Or Adrian Beltre’s or Neal Cotts’s or Craig Gentry’s or Tanner Scheppers’s or Jurickson Profar’s.
Or Nelson Cruz’s.
Today’s the first day in Rangers history that the club’s playoff chances come down to the final game of the season. It’s fitting that Yu Darvish is getting the ball, with an opportunity to give people around the baseball world something to say.
Tomorrow morning, I want to write a report titled “12 things.” Or “13 things,” if need be.
I want Yu Darvish — and his offense — to give us all something awesome to say.
This is why.