ARLINGTON, Texas – At first glance, it didn’t make sense that Rangers manager Ron Washington would pull Yu Darvish after 99 pitches in a 1-0 game Sunday.
After all, it was just three starts ago that Washington allowed Darvish to throw 130 pitches with a six-run lead.
The reason for Darvish’s exit after seven innings: plain old fatigue.
“After the sixth he said he was starting to get a little gassed,” Washington said. “After the seventh we asked him, he said he was a little gassed. So I wasn’t going to send him back out there if he was feeling fatigued.”
Darvish’s interpretation of the events was slightly different, but basically the same.
“First of all, I never told him that I was gassed,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “What I told him was that after the seventh inning, I told him I was a little bit fatigued, but I told him that I could still pitch.
“But I also told him that it might be better off with [reliever Tanner] Scheppers than taking me out to the mound again in the next inning.”
Sounds like admitting he was “gassed” is a matter of pride for Darvish. The fact he even made the suggestion of bringing in Scheppers probably says more about Darvish’s physical state.
It also says more about the struggle Darvish had in the early innings against the Royals. Darvish had a 26-pitch second inning, which included center fielder Craig Gentry throwing out Billy Butler at home to save a run.
In the fourth inning, Darvish walked the leadoff man and hit the next batter. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position before Darvish got out of the jam.
“My hat’s off to Gentry for that great play that he made,” Darvish said. “If it weren’t for that play, I think I would have struggled a lot more.”
Darvish cruised through his final three innings to finish with his second-lowest pitch count of the season. He threw 85 pitches in his second start of the season, against the Angels.
After the bullpen gave up a run to tie the score in the eighth, the decision to remove Darvish looked even more questionable. The Rangers came back to win, 3-1.
However, Darvish didn’t have the same command of his pitches that he had in his 130-pitch outing against Detroit. Which is why a 99-pitch outing — his second-lowest of the season — can be more draining than a 130-pitch outing.
“He was just fighting himself all day,” Washington said. “But he’s a warrior. He got us into the seventh inning, a 1-0 ballgame. He pitched around a lot of opportunities that the Kansas City Royals had, so that just goes to show you right there, even when he’s not at his best or feeling his best, [what] he’s capable of doing.”
Darvish said he was helped by the Royals becoming more aggressive at the plate in the later innings. He allowed just three hits — and no homers for the first time in seven starts — and struck out six.
“It was a really meaningful outing, the fact that I was able to shut them out for seven innings, despite all the stuff that I didn’t have today,” Darvish said.
After throwing 130 pitches on May 16, Darvish threw 101 and 116 pitches in his next two outings. He said Sunday’s relatively early exit was not the result of any illness or residual fatigue.
“Any time I throw more than seven innings, I feel a little fatigued after that,” Darvish said. “It was nothing special today.”