The first inning of Yu Darvish's big-league debut with the Texas Rangers on Monday night was something a few people at Rangers Ballpark would like to have back.
Chief among them, Darvish himself. Though he later settled down and earned the win in an 11-5 victory over Seattle, the big Japanese right-hander surrendered four runs in the first after giving up three walks and four hits to the Mariners during the 42-pitch frame. It wasn't exactly the best way for Darvish to introduce himself to the league, no matter how nicely he (and the powerful Rangers offense) acquitted himself afterward.
Then again, it could have been a lot worse. Darvish retired 10 straight batters at one point and finished with a line of five earned runs, five strikeouts and four walks over 5 2/3 innings. If the Rangers fans were disappointed with his uneven unveiling, they didn't show it. The Monday night crowd chanted his name as he exited the game with two outs in the sixth.
This fan was particularly excited:
Darvish wasn't the only one who struggled in the first inning. Despite being the most anticipated pitching debut in the Metroplex since David Clyde, Fox Sports Southwest missed his first two pitches because the umpires started the game early. When the broadcast finally began, Darvish was trailing leadoff hitter Chone Figgins 2-0 in the count.
Then there was Rangers analyst Tom Grieve, who made the type of innocent slip of the tongue that becomes a tad noteworthy after ESPN's Jeremy Lin headline controversy.
Here's how Grieve described the Mariners' hits in the first inning after Miguel Olivo blooped a single to right to give Seattle a 3-0 lead.
"They've hit a couple of balls hard. Smoak hit his line drive hard, Seager hit his ball pretty good and then there's been a couple of chinkers. Ichiro's little blooper and this slider, Olivo just hits right off the end of the bat and just dumps it over Kinsler's head."
Ooof. While it's hard to believe that was any more than an unfortunate choice of words for Grieve, it's also easy to wonder where the heck that word came from. I've heard bloop hits described as "dinks" and "dunks," but "chinkers"? Well, apparently someone does call them that, according to this glossary of baseball terms.
Again, it's impossible to believe there was anything intentional or malicious about the description. Grieve attracted a few critics on Twitter for the choice of words — maybe "dinks" and "dunks" would have been a better fit given the situation and the outcome of ESPN "chinks in the armor" story — but nothing more.
It certainly couldn't have been more culturally ignorant than the "Yu Dog" that Fox Sports Southwest spotlighted during the game (comes with seaweed, wontons and a fortune cookie!) or the sign that these two fans held up before the game.
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