Yu Darvish was locked in again on Friday night, joining Matt Harvey as the only pitchers to carry no-hit bids through six innings in three outings this season. Unfortunately, like his other outings against the Houston Astros, including a perfect game bid on April 3 that came one out short of a perfect game, Darvish was unable to cross the finish line or reach the history books.
In this particular outing, things actually unraveled quite a bit for Darvish in the seventh inning after he walked Brian Dozier to lead it off. Chris Herrmann and Justin Morneau immediately followed with back-to-back home runs to not only end the no-hitter and shutout, but also put him and the Rangers on the wrong side of the scoreboard, 3-2.
It just goes to show how truly difficult it is to actually complete a no-hitter, and also how quickly a game and an outing can change. Because believe me, for those first six innings, Darvish was filthy to the point of being unfair. Basically, his stuff was untouchable, and no one pitch demonstrates that better than the one he used to strikeout Trevor Plouffe to end the fifth inning.
The entire at-bat was one-sided. Darvish needed only three pitches to wipe Plouffe out. The strike three pitch, though, was as nasty as it gets.
On the heels of a 95 mph fastball, Darvish unleashed a 61 mph curveball, and Plouffe nearly corkscrewed himself into the ground attempting to make contact.
He missed it by that much.
If the visual aid didn't give you a better perspective of how effective that change of speed was, here's a fancy graph courtesy of Dan Brooks.
Darvish's 61mph curve was preceded by... a 95mph fastball: pic.twitter.com/5pp5SwujVB
— Dan Brooks (@brooksbaseball) August 31, 2013
The bottom dropped out alright, and as a result Trevor Plouffe will forever be giffed with Yu Darvish. But he's not alone.
Via @EliasSports Yu Darvish's 64 strikeouts in August are the most in a calendar month since Randy Johnson struck out 70 in August 2002
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 31, 2013
Credit where credit's due, Plouffe did come back in the seventh inning and delivered the single that knocked Darvish out of the game. A small measure, yes, but revenge nonetheless.