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Nats react to Darvish’s gem

Jun 1, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

The excellence of Yu Darvish is not something many fans – or baseball players for that matter –  in Washington, D.C. have been able to appreciate in his two-plus seasons in the majors.

Darvish plays in the American League in a division out west where many of the games don’t even start until after 10 p.m. on the east coast. Though he was an All-Star last season, he did not appear in the game due to injury.

For those of us who live in Washington, watching Darvish go to work is something that requires an extra effort. You have to seek it out and often times stay up late.

Sunday, however, provided the rare opportunity to see the Rangers’ ace take the mound in person, in an interleague series with the Nationals. He made his 10th start of the season in D.C. against the Nats and, man, did he not disappoint.

Darvish threw eight scoreless innings, putting on a surgical display using six different types of pitches. He rifled high-90s fastballs, dropped in low-90s sinkers, and even snapped a 59 mile per hour curveball in for strike three against Adam LaRoche.

Darvish has an impressive repertoire, and on Sunday it was on full display.

“He just throws your timing off. He has that long, dramatic leg kick and he pitches to both sides of the plate,” Denard Span – who was the only member of the Nats’ starting lineup not to strike out against Darvish – said.

“It’s tough as a hitter when you’ve got to worry about 94 and you got to also sit back on 60 to 65 miles an hour. That’s a 30 miles per hour difference and for hitters it’s all about timing and anytime a pitcher can disrupt your timing, they got you where they want you as far as keeping you off balance.”

Darvish finished with 12 strikeouts in eight innings pitched, having scattered five hits and two walks. He now holds a 2.08 ERA on the year through 10 outings, second-best in the American League.

LaRoche recorded a single and a walk, which was about as well as any Nats player did against Darvish in the Nationals’ 2-0 loss. Span also reached base with two hits.

“We just caught a really good pitcher on a day when he had really good stuff,” LaRoche said.

“There’s a reason he’s put up the numbers he has. A big part of it is having those pitches and also location and being able to run it up there to 96 when he wants to. He was good. I know we chased some pitches, but overall he wasn’t leaving anything over the middle of the plate. He was painting the corners. We’re struggling to put the ball in play on some of these pitches. There’s times when you’ve got to tip your hat and I think today was one of them.”

LaRoche talked about the 59 mile per hour curveball after the game. It caught him looking for a strikeout to begin the bottom of the fourth inning.

“It was interesting,” he said. “I thought he’d lost it. I thought it was going off the backstop when he released it. I just thought it slipped. And then it starts dropping in and I froze. I was impressed with that one.”

Darvish stopped the bleeding in what was otherwise a disastrous series for the Rangers. They entered Sunday having been outscored 19-4 in the first two games and went home with a series loss. They needed a stopper and, despite a seven-inning, one-run performance by his counterpart, Tanner Roark, Darvish delivered.

The Nationals now have Monday off before the Phillies come to town. They had struggled on offense throughout May before exploding for their final two games of the month. They will enter their next series hoping Darvish’s gem was just a minor setback in what is otherwise a resurgence for their lineup.

“I don’t think that will affect us,” LaRoche said. “I think, again, just chalk this up to running into a really good pitcher, come back Tuesday and forget about it.”

  1. Sonny G 10 - Jun 1, 2014 at 7:16 PM

    Yep, this was one where you just tip your cap to the pitcher. It was a good game and we got an outstanding outing from Tanner Roark. Should have RZimml available to help us Tuesday.

  2. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2014 at 7:29 PM

    Have to agree with LaRoche. If Darvish is feeling well (which isn’t always) there is almost no chance against him, with that repertoire and control. I felt bad for Roark, who went toe-to-toe with the Rangers’ Ace except for one mistake. I wonder if his concentration lapsed a second there with the pickoff play. He needed a shut out, and he almost delivered one.

    I did notice that Darvish seemed leary of lefties, and his two walks were ALR and Dobbs (on four pitches). Ron Washington had a lefty warming in the pen and almost took Darvish out before Dobbs came up. Span got two hits, and LaRoche got, as noted, a walk and a single.

    Davish’s platoon splits.
    versus RHB – .187 .275 .313
    versus LHB – .222 .305 .353

    That’s pretty dramatic for a starting pitcher.

    Here is Stras, for eample (career)
    versus RHB – .213 .266 .323
    versus LHB – .236 .304 .338

    This year, perhaps because of his change-up, Stras actually has a reverse platoon split.
    versus RHB – .292 .333 .423
    versus LHB – .225 .293 .275

    Meanwhile, the Fillies are sinking fast. They are 1-7 in Hamels’ starts, and he left today without speaking to the meadia, even though he had gone seven solid (two runs, one earned). and thrown 125 pitches.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:42 PM

      I don’t think Yu’s splits are that dramatic.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:45 PM

      What I mean to say is that the difference seems normal to me. besides 2014 splits don’t even have 200 PA right now. we should wait a while, no?

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 1, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Darvish was sharp today….. But I think Roark was just as sharp… Ick if that home run he gave up was even a mistake… If I remember correctly, that ball was up high and the batter got it…

    It was just a great pitching effort by both of them today… A treat to see.

  4. sjm308 - Jun 1, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    I am sure there will be times when we play away games with no rest and I also realize that its not a huge trip for the Phils but I am happy they play tomorrow while we rest. We need all the breaks possible to make up those 3.5 games on the Braves.

    • NatsLady - Jun 1, 2014 at 8:37 PM

      Phils have played three extra inning games in a row (14, 14, 11). Even if they play a normal nine tomorrow, that’s a lot of innings.

  5. Section 222 - Jun 1, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    So the media asked MW about how Zim did in Potomac. Is there a reason that none of them will him about his plans for using Zim when he comes back? Not that knows or would necessarily tell the truth, but it’s a pretty important question, isn’t it?

    • David Proctor - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:08 PM

      I think it’s been made pretty clear that he’s going to play LF, whether for good or bad. He’s played LF in all of his rehab starts and he will tomorrow as well. I think if they planned on him playing 3B right away, he’d at least get one game over there. At least so he can attempt to throw across the diamond. But that hasn’t happened.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:14 PM

        I agree with you David and seems a foregone conclusion for the near-term. I’m wondering 30 days from now when Bryce Harper is ready to come back as where RZim goes.

        It seems to me that’s what none of us know and Rizzo and MW may not know.

      • veejh - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:30 PM

        This is stupid. Espi is the weak link, McLouth is out hitting Espi, so Rendon to 2nd and let Zim play 3rd (as painful as it may be).

      • David Proctor - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:38 PM

        The team knows things we don’t. Zim may not be able to throw across the diamond right now (the throw from the OF is completely different). They’re not doing this just to do it, they have their reasons if we don’t know what they are.

        Plus, if you play Zim at 3B, you weaken the infield defense in two spots. If you play him at LF, you weaken the outfield defense in one spot. Your best defense right now is with Zim in LF. Of course, we don’t know how he’ll do there. But he can’t be worse than Hairston, Morse, Dunn, Willingham or a number of other butchers we’ve put out there. If he’s serviceable there, I understand the move.

        I guess time will tell.

      • NatsLady - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:39 PM

        Desi isn’t hitting much better than Danny. Desi’s what, 3 for 25 this week? Granted one was that three-run homer, BUT.

      • Section 222 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:03 AM

        Desi isn’t hitting much better than Danny? Really? Talk about small sample size theater, NL. How about going back a month rather than 5 games? Desi in May: .229/.327/.458/.786. 6 HR, 16 RBI, 11 BBs, 24 Ks. Not great, that’s for sure, although 6 HRs in a month is kind of good.

        Espi in May: 125/.195 /.263 /.458 3 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BBs, 37 Ks. That’s just pathetic and you know it.

        So +1 to veejh.

        DP, to say that putting Zim at 3B weakens the defense at two positions may be technically true but is kind of misleading. I guess I’ll concede that Espi is better than Rendon in the field but the drop is much, much, much less than McLouth to Zim.

        I don’t think the Zim in LF experiment will last long if it happens. Perhaps it lasts a bit longer than the Walters in LF boomlet did. But MW really thinks Danny is fixable. Of course, if you think a double and 3 Ks is “doing good,” your expectations aren’t that high.

  6. David Proctor - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    From the Post:

    “Zimmerman went 2 for 4 with an RBI single and an RBI double on Sunday. Williams said, based on the team’s reports from the game, Zimmerman was caught in a rundown on the bases and slid headfirst into third base.

    When telling reporters about the rundown, Williams breathed a deep sigh of relief, happy Zimmerman didn’t get hurt again. Zimmerman originally broke his thumb diving back to second base on a pickoff.

    Zimmerman had several chances while in left, where two doubles and a single were hit toward him. He also caught one flyball — a blooper to left field — calling off the shortstop to make the catch on the run.”

    I’m not sure I get the wisdom of diving head-first into a base on a minor league rehab assignment, but I suspect instinct just takes over.

    • natszee - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:47 PM

      It was much more benign than what was written. He broke for home when his teammate got tied up between 1st and 2nd. Zim broke back and forth and was called out because he was outside the baseline trying to get back to third. It looked to me (from across the field on the 1st base side) that he was about 4 feet short of third and tried to reach for it. I cringed but he was ok.

      • NatsLady - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:59 PM

        Thanks, good to have an on-scene report. Obvsiouly Williams (and Wagner, who wrote the WaPo article) didn’t have actual eyeballs on the play, but I thought the Post had a reporter there–they did yesterday.

  7. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Yeah, well, I’ll worry about what to do with Harper when the time comes. Maybe Jayson will get some much-needed time off. It could depend on how well RZ does in left field, who else gets injured, where we are in the standings… so many variables between now and then.

  8. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    You see what McCutchen just did? That is what Span was trying to do when he made his error.

  9. jac52683 - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:25 AM

    In order to use ‘great pitching’ as an excuse for not scoring runs you need to score runs on poor pitchers.

    • veejh - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:54 AM

      Coulda sworn we just did that the previous 2 games.

  10. davecydell - Jun 2, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    Yarvish was no more impressive than Roark.
    But another Nat’s NO CLUTCH offense performance, was impressive.
    Keep living the lie.

    • veejh - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:01 AM

      Yeah, he was, but only slightly. You realize he struck out 12 batters, right?

      • davecydell - Jun 2, 2014 at 1:36 AM

        so how many did Roark ground out ???

        keep living the lie.

    • adcwonk - Jun 2, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      Yup — that second place in Cy Young for Darvish last year musta been a fluke — all those opponents who couldn’t be clutch . . . .

    • chaz11963 - Jun 2, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      Braves troll.

    • tcostant - Jun 2, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      What? I stop reading after that statement, just impossible that anyone could believe that…

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