Yu Darvish struck out 12 batters Sunday afternoon, but only one of his K's fluttered like a pretty butterfly over the plate. Darvish, as he does from time to time, let loose in the bottom of the fourth inning with a 59-mph curveball that caught Adam LaRoche of the Washington Nationals looking for strike three. Darvish and the Rangers won 2-0.
In fairness to LaRoche, the computer eye watching balls and strikes indicated the pitch was outside. But also notice how it was the ideal height on the "Y" axis. Not a perfect strike, but beautiful and close enough for umpire Clint Fagan.
(It's the pitch labeled "3.") Pitches with big breaks are tougher for umpires to call in this era, when fewer curves and more sliders are being thrown.
Darvish allowed five hits and two walks over eight innings, lowering his season ERA to 2.08, and stopped cold a team that had won the first two games of the series by a combined 19-4. Darvish said he worried the night before about getting a full amount of sleep because of a stiff neck that caused him to miss a previous start. But it was not an issue.
''Last night before I went to bed, I was very scared to wake up with a neck injury so I probably woke up 20 times,'' he said through a translator. ''But I didn't have any pain when I woke up this morning.''
Two starts ago, Darvish threw an eephus to strike out Adam Lind of the Blue Jays, but that pitch reached 63 mph on the radar gun. The one against LaRoche could barely be clocked for speeding in a 55.
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