Darvish shakes off bad start, delivers resilient gem

August 28th, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- It didn’t start well for Yu Darvish, but an unsettling first inning wasn’t going to spoil his night.

Darvish recovered from a rocky three-run first inning by then rattling off six stellar frames, and the Padres got just enough offense to back him up and rally for a 4-3 victory over the Royals Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.

When the Royals brought three across in the first, Darvish appeared to be headed for a short outing. He struck out leadoff hitter MJ Melendez, but then five consecutive Kansas City hitters reached base and the Royals put the Padres in a hole.

It didn’t immediately get better for Darvish in the second, as the Royals put men at first and third with one out after Juan Soto's terrific leaping grab started the inning.

But that’s when Darvish steadied himself and went to work. He got Salvador Perez on a short fly to right and then struck out Ryan O’Hearn.

From that point on, Darvish was masterful.

“To be able to get through seven was a minor miracle, but [Darvish] tends to do those things,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “Maybe a little out of sync in the first. Once he gets on a roll and figures out which pitches are working for him, he’s tough to deal with.”

Darvish had a couple of extra days off before returning from the paternity leave list to make the Saturday start. With the first-inning struggles that drove up his pitch count, even Darvish doubted he’d be able to turn in a long outing.

“I’m thinking, 'If I can get through five [innings], that will be a good night,'” Darvish said through an interpreter. “Somehow, I managed to get to seven.”

Darvish was helped by his defense and a Padres offense that responded quickly after the Royals took their early lead. Wil Myers came up big with a two-run homer to right-center in the second, and then RBI singles by Manny Machado and Brandon Drury in the third put San Diego ahead to stay.

For Myers, a former Royals Draft pick and top prospect, it was the second time in as many games this series in which he hit an opposite-field homer.

“I’ve been working toward right field the last two weeks,” Myers said. “I haven’t had a ton of success with that, but the last two games it has started to turn around. I played golf on the off-day. Maybe that was a little bit of it, too.”

After Darvish got through seven, the Padres still needed some quality relief pitching from Robert Suarez in the eighth and Nick Martinez in the ninth. Josh Hader did a lot of walking around in the San Diego bullpen, but never began to throw.

“There’s a good chance [Hader] will be in there at some point [Sunday],” Melvin said.

The Padres had a chance to do big damage against Kansas City starter Daniel Lynch in the third, but had to settle for just the one-run lead. They had the bases loaded with one out after scoring two, but Myers and Jurickson Profar went down on strikes to keep it a close game.

That missed chance didn’t come back to haunt San Diego thanks to Darvish, Suarez and Martinez.

“We had some opportunities,” Myers said. “Darvish settled in and showed who he is and the bullpen came in and shut the door. It’s a good all-around team win.”