Control issues crop up for Yu in second start
Rangers righty walks four, allows two runs in three-inning outing
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish said catcher Yorvit Torrealba saved him on Tuesday afternoon against the Indians."If Torrealba wasn't catching, I probably would have given up 10 runs," Darvish said. Darvish ended up allowing just two runs over three innings on an afternoon when he was struggling with his fastball command. He faced 13 hitters and allowed seven to reach base, but Torrealba threw out two attempted basestealers and the Rangers turned a double play behind him. Darvish walked four and allowed three hits in the Rangers' 8-8 tie with the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. "Overall, physically, I wasn't that good," Darvish said. "I was off on my command. I struggled with my four-seam and two-seam [sinker] fastball. My life on my fastball isn't what I want it to be."
It was not a great day for Rangers' pitching overall. They had a 7-0 lead in the top of the third inning and ended in an 8-8 tie after 10 innings. The Indians' comeback only started against Darvish. Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, two key members of the bullpen, each allowed two runs in one inning of work. So did Joe Beimel, who is trying to win a job as a left-handed setup reliever.But Darvish was the reason why this game was picked up by the MLB Network, and the national audience saw him throw 61 pitches. He was almost close to being pulled from the third inning after the first four hitters reached on a double, two walks and a run-scoring single that made it 7-1. Taking Darvish out in the middle of an inning is something that would have been unheard of in Japan. "It was just one of those days where he was a little erratic," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But he found a way to get out of some tough spots with minimal damage. He made pitches. We wanted him to finish that inning. He wasn't laboring, he was just missing his spots." But Darvish, with a sharp slider, was able to get Shin-Soo Choo to ground into a double play and the Rangers let him finish the inning. Travis Hafner brought it to an end with a fly ball to deep center. "Yu is figuring out how we go about our business," bullpen coach Andy Hawkins said. "We talk a lot about game management and situations that arise. Yu got in trouble and did a great job of getting out of it by attacking the strike zone and getting a ground ball." Darvish's erratic command of his fastball showed up right away when he walked the first two hitters in the first inning. But both Michael Brantley and Asdrubel Cabrera were thrown out trying to steal by Torrealba, and Darvish did not allow a run that inning. Indians manager Manny Acta said his team did not go into the game with the intent of running on Darvish. "We're not picking on anybody here," Acta said. "We're working on stuff. Those guys were just trying to be aggressive in Spring Training. That had nothing to do with who was on the mound."
After Engel Beltre's RBI triple gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second, Darvish started the bottom of the inning by getting Hafner on a weak pop to first. Jose Lopez then reached on a soft single up the middle and Darvish responded by striking out Jason Kipnis and Fred Lewis.The Rangers came back and struck for six runs in the top of third to make it 7-0. But Darvish came out with more control issues in the bottom of the inning after the lengthy rally by his offensive teammates. It brought up another adjustment Darvish will have to make in the Major Leagues. In Japan, pitchers are allowed to play catch in front of their dugout while their team is hitting to get ready for the next inning. Over here, they have to wait until the inning is over. "If that's the way they do it over here then that's the way I'll have to do it," Darvish said. Jack Hannahan, jumping on a straight fastball, led off the inning with a line drive to right-center that deflected off center fielder Craig Gentry's glove as he tried to making a lunging catch. Hannahan ended up with a double and Gentry left the game after falling hard on his left wrist. "I could see how he could be effective if he's controlling that sinker and he's throwing that big, slow curveball," Hannahan said. "But, in this league it doesn't matter how hard you throw. If you're fastball is straight, it's going to get hit." Darvish's slider was the pitch that save him in the third. Darvish walked the next two batters and a single by Cabrera drove in the first run. Choo then went after the slider and hit into a double play with a grounder to second baseman Yangervis Solarte. A second run scored, but Darvish got out of the inning by getting Hafner on a fly to center. That was the end of his afternoon. "If this was a real game, Darvish would have still kept the ball," Washington said. "In the course of a [regular-season] game, he might have found it, put up a few zeros on the scoreboard and all of a sudden we're in the seventh inning. This was his second time out this spring. There's no way he's in game-ready form. But he'll be game-ready come April. He's got good stuff."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.