2022 MLB Playoffs: Yu Darvish, Padres put it all together to take Game 1

By Jake Mintz
FOX Sports MLB Writer

Years from now, we’ll all take note how hopeless Max Scherzer regarded.

Nothing might be able to wipe that symbol from our collective reminiscence: probably the most intimidating pitcher of a era, a surefire Hall of Famer, slugging off the mound underneath a hailstorm of boos after permitting seven runs in a dumpster hearth of a efficiency. In entrance of a sold-out Citi Field crowd, with the power prime and the expectancies upper, Scherzer crumbled in opposition to the Padres within the Mets7-1 loss in Game 1 of the 2022 Wild-Card Series.

But Mad Max’s sad-sack night time stung much more by contrast to the masterful pitching efficiency reverse him. Yu Darvish, probably the most recreation’s maximum tantalizingly gifted hurlers, confirmed up and delivered when Scherzer didn’t. Despite missing his filthiest swing-and-miss stuff, Darvish refused to let the Mets again into the ball sport. After a rocky first inning that teetered at the verge of collapse, Darvish gave the Mets and their enthusiasts no reason why for hope.

The 36-year-old right-hander hucked seven stellar frames Friday, permitting a unmarried earned run on six hits and 0 walks. His devastating four-seam/cutter/slider triad baffled hitters all sport, eliciting heaps of vulnerable touch from a obviously uncomfortable Mets lineup. What’s extra, through pitching throughout the 7th inning, Darvish — with a large help from the Padres’ 4 homers — allowed skipper Bob Melvin to stay his absolute best relievers recent for Saturday’s Game 2.

And now, thank you largely to Darvish and the primary 100-pitch postseason efficiency of his exemplary profession, the Padres are one win clear of an NLDS showdown with the Dodgers.

When it comes down to it, the postseason is set dingers. Trying to string hits together in opposition to a staff’s absolute best handful of pitchers is a difficult job. The absolute best technique, extra frequently than now not, is to draw a stroll or two after which intention for the horizon. Clubs that may belt it over the fence when the elements will get cold win extra video games than they lose. (The 2015 Royals are an exception that proves the rule of thumb.)

On Friday, apart from Eduardo Escobar’s solo shot, Darvish saved the baseball within the backyard. Scherzer didn’t. That most certainly has so much to do with the 7-year-old Mets fan I noticed at the concourse punching a cement wall in disgust.

Even regardless that Darvish danced one step forward of New York’s bats, his efficiency used to be extra workmanlike than dominant. The 4 strikeouts had been the fewest he has tallied in a get started since June 1. Scherzer — early travel to the showers and all — generated just one fewer swing-and-miss in 4⅔ than Darvish did in seven innings. 

But being in regulate is way more necessary than being nasty. And Darvish by no means cracked, by no means gave up that back-breaking base knock. His maximum the most important pitch of the night time got here early, in opposition to Pete Alonso within the backside of the primary inning with one out and Mets at the corners. 

Alonso’s league-leading 131 RBIs this season broke a Mets franchise report. Whenever geese had been at the pond this season, Alonso has usually introduced them house. 

But Darvish went appropriate after the fearsome slugger, difficult him with a first-pitch sinker within the zone. Alonso were given his barrel on it and smoked the ball 400 toes down the left-field line however manner foul. Moments later, with the rely 0-2, Darvish iced up Alonso with a picture-perfect cutter on the knees.

The subsequent hitter, Daniel Vogelbach, flew out to appropriate to finish the danger. The Citi Field crowd returned butts to seats, by no means to upward thrust once more.

The night time used to be a glowing spotlight in what has been a ordinary big-league adventure for Darvish, who made the extremely expected trans-Pacific jump forward of the 2012 season. That wintry weather, the Rangers paid a complete of $110 million to protected his services and products, and for the primary 3 seasons, he delivered. He made 3 All-Star Games in 3 years, completed 2nd within the Cy Young and led baseball in Ok/9 from 2012 via (*1*)s profession has fluctuated between suits of brilliance and bouts of mediocrity, every so often even inside of the similar get started. Through it all, the stuff has all the time tantalized, his kitchen sink of choices the very best fodder for Pitching Ninja GIFs. But it additionally appeared now and then, in particular right through the start of his Cubs tenure and the again part of ultimate season, that Darvish used to be chasing a ghost of himself.

This season has been a unique tale. Since a disastrous time out in opposition to the Giants in his 2nd get started of the yr, wherein he gave up 9 runs and picked up simply 5 outs on a miserably windy and chilly night time in San Francisco, Darvish has posted the sixth-lowest ERA within the National League. His ultimate month used to be in particular excellent, as he allowed handiest 8 runs throughout six begins.

That scorching stretch to finish the yr most likely increased Darvish above his friends in a Padres rotation of employed weapons and earned him the duty of a Game 1 get started. On that degree, he shined, incomes his first postseason win for the reason that 2017 NLCS. Baseball has modified fairly a little bit since then, and so has Darvish. He has reinvented himself as a tumbler a lot of occasions over time, however he claims he in spite of everything feels comfy and protected, thank you to a greater pregame regimen that incorporates mediation.

Darvish nonetheless has some demons on which to meditate — when requested about his 2017 World Series struggles in opposition to Houston, he declined to remark — however he’ll get abundant alternative to overcome the previous, must San Diego advance previous the Mets.

Now nearer to 40 than 30, he could be working out of time to seize a hoop, however on Friday, he took a functional step towards pushing the Padres additional into October than they’ve long past in 25 years.

Jake Mintz, the louder part of @CespedesBBQ is a baseball author for FOX Sports. He’s an Orioles fan residing in New York City, and thus, he leads a lonely life maximum Octobers. If he’s now not looking at baseball, he’s virtually without a doubt using his motorbike. Follow him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz.

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