In his first opportunity to demonstrate why the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired him at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Yu Darvish pitched arguably his best game since joining the team. The end result was a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division Series.
“Before the game I was talking to Doc, and it’s not about my personal like how am I going to pitch,” Darvish said through a translator after Game 3. “I was telling him, ‘Hey, Arizona has no tomorrow. We’re going to finish them off today.’ He said, ‘Exactly, that’s what we’re going to do.’
“So it was about finishing them off. Because if they take this game, the momentum could go their way, and we wanted to get this game, and I’m glad that we got [the] win.”
Whereas Zack Greinke, the former right-handed complement to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, labored through five-plus innings, Darvish was efficient and dominant. Through four innings the Diamondbacks’ lone baserunner came on Ketel Marte’s bunt single in the first inning.
Darvish proceeded to retire 13 batters in a row, which included striking out the side — Marte, Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez — in the fourth inning. Descalso snapped Darvish’s string of batters retired at 13 with a two-out solo home run in the fifth.
It was the second and final hit the 31-year-old allowed on the night. A hit by pitch to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning spelled the end of the road for Darvish despite only being at 74 pitches.
“I support his decision 100 percent,” he said of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts bringing the hook. The bullpen backed Darvish’s effort by allowing just one hit over the final four innings.
Darvish relied on a steady dose of fastballs and cutters throughout the night, which was by design because of the elements at Chase Field. “Most of the time I threw here, the roof was closed and my off-speed pitches were actually moving great,” he explained.
“[Monday], the roof was open, and when I threw the pitches in the bullpen, it wasn’t quite the same. So it’s almost like Colorado, like for me to have to execute almost perfectly to make my off-speed pitches move. But overall, I pitched well.”
Above all else, the right-hander didn’t seem fazed by the moment. He’d lost both of his previous playoff starts and yielded a 5.40 ERA in those outings. “Yu really stepped up huge for us,” Roberts said.
“He was in command and control from the first pitch, working to both sides of the plate. The cutter was working really well, good velocity with the fastball and great command. It was just fun to watch him just have his nerves calm and just compete. He was out there having fun.”