Dodgers defeat Diamondbacks despite the struggles of Yu Darvish
Yu Darvish did not dominate the Arizona Diamondbacks the way he had the New York Mets in his Dodgers debut. He repeatedly struggled to locate his fastball within the strike zone Thursday night, staking 10 Diamondbacks to advantageous 2-and-0 counts.
What Darvish displayed at Chase Field was still dominance — only of a different sort. When he needed to throw a strike to avoid a walk, he pumped a strike. When the situation dictated he elicit a swing-and-miss, he extorted a swing-and-miss. It’s more torturous to be beaten by an opponent not at his best, more disheartening to be defeated by a competitor so clearly procrastinating. The Diamondbacks lost, 8-6, to a notably imperfect but unarguably effective Darvish.
“When he’s obviously not at his best and still goes five innings, strikes out 10,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “that’s obviously encouraging.”
Arizona trotted out a rookie left-hander named Anthony Banda, who was making his third career start. Banda, the organization’s top prospect, turned 24 on Thursday. His celebration did not last long, as Corey Seager shot the game’s first hit to right in the first inning.
Justin Turner then smashed a ball right to Diamondbacks shortstop Ketel Marte, who could not glove it. Logan Forsythe battled back from a 1-and-2 count to draw a two-out walk. Enrique Hernandez, also on a 1-and-2 pitch, dropped his swing to greet a low curveball and drive it into left field.
His bases-loaded double scored three runs.
At once it was clear that Darvish was not wielding his standard command. In the first inning, he threw three consecutive balls to begin at-bats against David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt, and two to Jake Lamb. The third pitch to Lamb also was below the zone, but Lamb chased it. Arizona chased often. Peralta singled, but Pollock and Goldschmidt struck out swinging and Lamb flied out to center.
After he struck out Goldschmidt to begin the fourth, Darvish missed high with a fastball to J.D. Martinez, who launched an opposite-field home run. Two more singles moved the go-ahead run to first base with two outs when Arizona manager Torey Lovullo pinch-hit Brandon Drury for Banda.
Darvish found pinpoint command. He spun two tempting sliders just below the zone, then hurled a fastball just above it. Drury swung and missed on all three pitches.
Chris Taylor ambushed Arizona reliever Jake Barrett in the fifth, walloping his first pitch four rows into the left-field stands. A walk, an error and two infield singles supplied the Dodgers two more runs.
Shortstop Corey Seager gets high-fives at the dugout after hitting his second homer of the night, a 2-run shot, giving the Dodgers a 6-4 lead against the San Francisco Giants.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Center fielder Joc Pederson makes a leaping catch on a ball hit deep by New York Mets’ Neil Walker to end the game.(Julie Jacobson / AP)
Yasiel Puig slides safely home for a run in the ninth inning as Travis d’Arnaud of the Mets can’t come up with the ball at Citi Field.(Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)
Pitcher Yu Darvish talks with catcher Austin Barnes after warming up in the bullpen before a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.(Ross D. Franklin / AP)
Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run against the New York Mets.(Julie Jacobson / AP)
Corey Seager celebrates after Justin Turner scored the winning run on a double by Kyle Farmer as San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, left, reaches for an off-center throw. The Dodgers won 3-2.(Mark J. Terrill / AP)
Kyle Farmer has his shirt ripped apart by teammates Enrique Hernandez, Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig after hitting the game winning double during his Major League debut against the San Francisco Giants in the 11th inning at Dodger Stadium Stadium.(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)
Justin Turner throws to first to complete a putout against the Mets.(Kathy Willens / AP)
Yu Darvish delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.(Jennifer Stewart / Getty Images)
Left fielder Cody Bellinger watches his home run ball clear the center field wall to give the Dodgers a 7-0 lead over the Miami Marlins in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Relief pitcher Kenley Jansen hugs catcher Yasmani Grandal after getting the save in the Dodgers 4-2 win over the Colorado Rockies.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner, center, celebrates with Cody Bellinger, right, and Yasiel Puig after hitting a walk-off single during the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins.(Kelvin Kuo / AP)
Clayton Kershaw, left, who is on the disabled list due to a back injury, congratulates Cody Bellinger after the Dodgers beat the Twins 6-2.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Pitcher Clayton Kershaw warms up in the bullpen before facingthe Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner is tagged out at home plate by Dodgers pitcher Pedro Baez in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Closer Kenley Jansen picks up his 10th save after giving up one hit over 1 1/3 innings, closing out a 2-1 win over the Nationals at Dodger Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Pitcher Kenley Jansen pulls away after signing autographs before a game against the Atlanta Braves.(John Amis / AP)
Catcher Yasmani Grandal steps over Braves first baseman Matt Adams after tagging him out to prevent a run in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Relief pitcher Edward Paredes gets a win in his against the Minnesota Twins.(Jae C. Hong / AP)
Dodgers’ Joc Pederson’s bat, right, rests in the dugout before a baseball game against the New York Mets in New York. Pederson is among the most recent major leaguers to adopt the Axe Bat handle, a modern take on the baseball bat that eschews the traditional round knob.(Julie Jacobson / AP)
Darvish issued another walk to begin the bottom of the fifth. As Pedro Baez warmed, Darvish nixed his fastball and introduced a slow curve into his pitch mix on the suggestion of pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and struck out Pollock and Lamb. He then benefited from a borderline call on a slider to strike out Goldschmidt. In one motion, Darvish pumped his fist up and lowered his glove, the incongruous celebration symbolizing his evening — inexact but forceful.
“I struggled to throw first-pitch strikes,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “It was a battle throughout the game.”
Darvish’s 106 pitches were his most since June 7. It had been more than three years since he had thrown that many pitches in five innings or fewer.
In the Dodgers’ half of the sixth, Turner doubled in two runs.
Chris Iannetta matched that in the bottom of the inning with a home run against Brock Stewart, one of five Dodgers relievers. Arizona managed two more runs against Brandon Morrow in the eighth, but Tony Cingrani helped him out of a jam. Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth, securing his 30th save and Darvish his second victory as a Dodger.
The remaining question was why had Darvish not lessened his fastball usage earlier in the game.
“That,” Roberts said, “is a conversation that might be had.”
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura
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