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MLB

Small Ball Returned To Torture Yu Darvish

8:53 AM EDT on April 11, 2023

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Yu Darvish #11 of the San Diego Padres looks out at the field in the third inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on April 10, 2023 in New York City.
Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

Sometimes it feels like baseball is specifically designed to drive the people who play it to madness. You know this is true because I am not even referring to the fact that on Monday night the Kansas City Royals went up against Rangers starter Andrew Heaney (a 32-year-old with a career 4.60 ERA) and struck out in nine consecutive at-bats. Somehow, I think those Royals hitters are feeling less frustrated this morning than Yu Darvish.

So imagine you're Yu Darvish. You and your Padres teammates are in New York for a three-game series against the Mets, and you are feeling good about it because you eat the Mets up every time you see them. Coming into Monday's start, you'd gone 5-0 in nine starts against those dummies, with an ERA of 2.56. And the last time you saw them, in Game 1 of the Wild Card round in 2022, you shut them down for seven innings, allowing just one run and cruising to a 7-1 victory.

Maybe you thought things would be a little harder on Monday night because you're matched up against Max Scherzer, but you start feeling a lot better about that by the second or third inning. Scherzer's kind of a mess. He's taking just about every batter who comes to the plate to a 3-2 count, he can't consistently get his fastball above 92 mph, and he's getting very few swings and misses. Even after the Mets tag you for two runs in the third, there's no need to panic. You're in control of the game; Scherzer or the bullpen are gonna crack soon; just keep making pitches and getting guys out and everything will take care of itself.

Bottom of the seventh. Mark Canha leads off with a two-strike double. No big deal. You're at the bottom of the order, and some clown named Luis Guillorme is coming up next (where do they even find these clowns?), and after that you've got Eduardo Escobar and Tomás Nido. Just take care of these bozos, and you've got a nice quality start under the belt.

OK, what the fuck is this? A bunt? In 2023? Sent down the line even while the corner infielders are playing in? Maybe your buddy over there at third, Manny Machado, could have sprinted down the line and scooped that sucker up in time to make a throw to first, but it sure did look like it was going foul. You can't really be mad at Manny. I mean, how many times does a bunt just perfectly hug the line like that and come to a stop just short of third base? A few times a season? Sometimes baseball is just kind of dumb. Shake it off. Get the next out.

Escobar hits a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat. Whatever. Small ball doesn't win games. You can still get out of this relatively unscathed, so long as this Nido guy doesn't turn on one and—

Jesus Christ. What god have you offended? What ancient curse did you manage to unleash while checking into the hotel last night? Why do you even play this stupid game?

So you got chased from the game by a double, a sac fly, and two of the cruelest infield hits to ever share a half-inning, but the night isn't a total loss. Your friend Tim Hill is in there now, and as long as he gets out of the inning you'll still get to take that quality start home with you.

Six-and-a-third innings pitched, six hits, and five earned runs. That's what you ended up with. People are going to read those numbers in the newspaper today and conclude that you got your ass lit up by the mighty batsmen of the New York Mets. And there's nothing you can do about it!

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