Darvish silences Mets' bats and crowd: 'It's just noise'

October 8th, 2022

NEW YORK -- has had some tough luck in the postseason. Before Friday night, he was 2-5 and had lost three straight starts.

That included a terrible Game 7 loss to the Astros in the 2017 World Series. Darvish, then pitching for the Dodgers, lasted 1 2/3 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) to give Houston the World Series title.

Two teams later, Darvish was in the postseason with the Padres and was a beast against the Mets in Game 1 of the National League Wild Card Series. He allowed one run in seven innings and struck out four batters in a 7-1 victory Friday night at Citi Field.

“It's kind of a typical Yu Darvish game, where he goes seven innings, throws about 100 pitches, doesn't give up much, pitches out of jams when he needs to, invents pitches along the way,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “Most starters, you worry about third and fourth time around the lineup, but not really with him when he's going good because he can give you different looks all the way around. This just seems like a typical game for him.”

Was it redemption for Darvish? After all, he broke a personal losing streak.

Darvish said he doesn’t remember those three losses. It was a long time ago, the right-hander added.

Darvish’s pitching philosophy has changed since he joined the Padres in 2021. He is more into the mental side of the game and the preparation going into the game.

“That’s completely different from how I was back then,” Darvish said. “For the mental side, meditation. It gives you a sense of what I need to focus most at that moment. Also, as far as the preparation goes, you dig into the data. You look into the hitters and all of that type of preparation going in.”

At first, it looked like Darvish might be in for a bad night. He was not at his best in the first inning. New York had runners on first and third with one out. The Citi Field crowd was so loud, it felt like someone was screaming into Darvish’s ear. 

“But I kind of reminded myself that it’s just noise -- just go out there and do your thing,” Darvish said.

Darvish managed to get out of the jam by striking out Pete Alonso and inducing a flyout by Daniel Vogelbach.

After allowing a leadoff single to Starling Marte in the bottom of the second inning, Darvish retired the next 10 hitters before he surrendered a solo home run to Eduardo Escobar in the fifth. That merely cut the Padres’ lead to six runs.

“He really throws so many pitches, and he commands them,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said about Darvish. “… There are two shapes of breaking balls, really three with the cutter, the slider and the curveball. When he wants to, he makes pitches with that, even to the left-handed hitters. … But Darvish is on top of his game. We knew that was going to be a challenge. He's just got so many things you have to defend.” 

Darvish benefited from the power that the Padres displayed against right-hander Max Scherzer. In the first inning, Darvish was given a 2-0 lead on a two-run home run  by . An inning later, hit a drive over the right-field wall to give San Diego a three-run cushion. In the fifth, the Padres took Scherzer out of the game by scoring four runs. highlighted the scoring with a three-run homer. 

“It obviously gives you a little bit of breathing room, but I was more shocked by the fact that Scherzer gave up that many runs. You don’t see that very often,” Darvish said.

Darvish almost didn’t finish the seventh inning. He developed a blister on his foot.

“It happens to him sometimes when the mound's a little dry. It's happened to him at home a couple times before,” Melvin said. “But he's pretty close to coming out of the game -- he can always reach back and get an extra out.”