Yu hot on heels of 2 Japanese pitching icons with 200th win

May 20th, 2024

ATLANTA -- has reached a pitching milestone few have.

The 37-year-old right-hander was dominant in the Padres’ 9-1 victory over the Braves on Sunday night at Truist Park.

Darvish tallied his 200th win between Major League Baseball (107) and Nippon Professional Baseball (93).

“I understand it’s a big number, but it’s still hard for me to comprehend it right now,” Darvish said through an interpreter.

Only Hiroki Kuroda (203) and Hideo Nomo (201) have more combined wins in the two circuits as Japanese-born players.

“Those two other pitchers, Hideo Nomo and Hiroki Kuroda, obviously we know how good they are,” Darvish said. “Just to be able to be a little closer to them, I feel honored and it gives me confidence moving forward.”

Darvish (4-1) went seven scoreless innings and allowed two hits with nine strikeouts and one walk. He extended his career-best scoreless streak to 25 innings.

Darvish has had four straight scoreless starts for the first time in his MLB career. Darvish is the first Padres pitcher in franchise history with four straight scoreless starts of at least five innings pitched.

“It’s been fantastic,” Padres manager Mike Shildt said. “It starts with the starters. Yu has been elite the last four times out. He’s been nothing short of magnificent. Two hundred career wins between Japan and Major League Baseball, that is an impressive feat.

“It’s hard to even capture what he’s done to be able to do that. Talk about dedication for a long time to his craft -- taking care of himself. My respect for him is off the charts. I always appreciate longevity statistics like this. It’s a tribute to a career that’s still going.”

Darvish retired the final 13 batters he faced. In his seven innings, he faced two batters over the minimum and threw 99 pitches.

“His fastball was where he wanted to throw it,” Shildt said. “His slider and [splitter] were good. And in the fourth, he started throwing his slower curveball. It was just masterful.”

Darvish, sidelined for a couple weeks with neck tightness, has not allowed a run since he was activated from the 15-day injured list on April 30.

“I think overall command is way better than before going on the IL,” Darvish said.

Darvish and Kenny Rogers are the only two pitchers since 1901 who are 37 or older to have had four straight scoreless starts. Rogers did so with the Rangers in 2005.

Darvish had a three-run lead before he took the mound. Jake Cronenworth hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, and Jackson Merrill registered an RBI single.

“Those are the times you have to be careful,” Darvish said of having a lead before he took the mound. “I think it’s really [about] concentrating on each pitch and just trying to get that job done and execute that pitch. That’s all I had in mind out there.”

Darvish had some help from his defense, namely third baseman Manny Machado, in the second inning. Machado made a diving stop to his right, holding Orlando Arcia to a leadoff single, rather than a double. On the next play, Michael Harris II’s ground ball to Machado resulted in a 5-6-3 double play.

“You can’t thank [Machado] enough,” Darvish said. “That diving catch that he made -- he also made a great double play -- obviously helped me out.”

Darvish wasn’t aware that he has gone 25 innings without allowing a run.

“The fact that I’m able to do that means that I’m helping the team win,” Darvish said. “I’m all in for that.”

The Padres and Braves conclude their four-game series on Monday with a split doubleheader. On Sunday, the Padres needed only two relievers to cover two innings.

“It’s very important,” Shildt said of getting a long start out of Darvish. “It’s good for him to grab that seven [innings] as effectively as he did. That sets us up for [Monday] with that doubleheader. It was a big outing for Yu’s milestone and a big outing for our team.”