Yu Darvish wouldn’t object to an umpire ear inspection: ‘Touch my wherever’
If San Diego Padres ace Yu Darvish is dominating the Dodgers on Wednesday night, and he is checked for foreign substances the way teammate Joe Musgrove was when the right-hander had his sweaty ears thoroughly rubbed by umpires in New York Sunday night, Darvish won’t object.
“Anybody can come up and touch my ears, touch my nose, touch my wherever,” Darvish said through an interpreter on Tuesday, the Dodger Stadium interview room erupting in laughter. “I’m sure they had their reasons for doing what they did to Joe. I really don’t think too much about it.”
A touchy-feely Darvish will start Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers Wednesday night, the right-hander’s first playoff appearance in Chavez Ravine since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, a start that quickly turned into the most ignominious night of his otherwise illustrious 10-year career.
The Dodgers had acquired Darvish from the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline in 2017, believing he was the final piece to their World Series puzzle.
The Dodgers begin their World Series quest in earnest with a 5-3 win over the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of the best-of-five National League Division Series.
Darvish went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA in nine regular-season starts and pitched well in his first two playoff games, giving up two runs, striking out 14 and walking two in 11 1/3 innings of wins over Arizona in the NLDS and the Chicago Cubs in the NL Championship Series.
He was rocked for four runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings of a World Series Game 3 loss to the Houston Astros, who were later punished by Major League Baseball for their use of an electronic sign-stealing system in 2017 and 2018.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts turned to Darvish again for the decisive Game 7. It did not go well. The Astros pummeled Darvish for five runs in 1 2/3 innings, the key blow George Springer’s two-run homer in a three-run second, en route to a 5-1 victory and what would be a tarnished World Series title.
“Obviously, the stadium hasn’t changed, not much has changed here, but as for myself, I feel like I’m a different pitcher from back then,” Darvish said. “I think it comes with age, going through experience, for sure.
“You go through that experience in 2017, and there’s a lot to learn from that. It helps you grow to become a better pitcher. Not just me. I’ve had help from other staff, coaches around me, but it’s a learning experience that you grow from.”
Darvish, 36, signed a six-year, $126-million deal with the Cubs before 2018 and was traded to the Padres before 2020.
He went 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 30 starts this season — going six innings or more in 28 of them — and was sharp in his NL wild-card start against the Mets, giving up one run and six hits in seven innings of a 7-1 Game 1 win , despite having a large blister on the side of his right big toe burst during the game.
Darvish said the blister was “fine,” and that he didn’t have any problems with it during his between-starts bullpen workout.
Darvish, who has a six-pitch mix but leans mostly on an 86-mph cutter and 95-mph four-seamer, has a 3-5 record and 2.47 ERA in 10 career starts against the Dodgers and went 1-2 with a 2.52 ERA in four starts against them this season, striking out 25, walking five and giving up four homers in 31 innings.
“You obviously go in with a plan when you face these guys,” Darvish said. “I think I’ve been a bit lucky, too, against them.”
Sharing the spotlight
Walker Buehler underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in August, but the erstwhile Dodgers ace won’t be invisible during the NLDS.
Buehler, who has a 3-3 record and 2.94 ERA in 15 career playoff starts, with 101 strikeouts and 31 walks in 79 2/3 innings, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 — probably with his left arm — and will debut as a guest studio analyst for Fox Sports, most likely beginning Friday.
“Walker needs to be the center of attention at all costs,” Dodgers Game 2 starter Clayton Kershaw joked, “so he found it.”
But seriously, folks …
“Walker has obviously been a really huge part of this team, and we’re going to miss him at this time,” said Kershaw, who missed the 2021 postseason because of an elbow injury suffered in his final regular-season start.
“He’s pitched some huge games for us, won a lot of huge postseason games for us. I think it’s great that we’re letting him be a part of it, and I hope he gets the standing ovation he deserves.”
The Dodgers haven’t announced a Game 3 starter — they will likely choose between left-hander Tyler Anderson and right-hander Tony Gonsolin — but Padres manager Bob Melvin said that left-hander Blake Snell will start Game 3 in Petco Park on Friday.
Melvin had the option of bringing back Musgrove on regular rest for Game 3 but opted to keep the order of his rotation intact by starting Snell, who gave up two runs and four hits and walked six in 3 1/3 innings of a 7-3 loss to the Mets in Game 2 of the wild-card series on Saturday.
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