LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers rallied to win on Tuesday night in a game full of redemption stories. Now, in the final game of the baseball season they turn to Yu Darvish, looking for a bounce back of his own.
Darvish, the Dodgers’ main acquisition at the non-waiver trade deadline, was tattooed in his Game 3 start on Friday in Houston, allowing four runs on six hits while recording just five outs. He struck out nobody for the first time in his career.
Game 3 was overshadowed by Yuli Gurriel making a racist gesture after homering against Darvish, and before Game 4 during a huddle in the dugout the team told Darvish they were going to win for him, and they did:
“We have really good people in this clubhouse, and I really appreciate my teammates supporting me,” Darvish said.
If the Dodgers can complete their comeback and win in Game 7, especially behind a strong performance from Darvish, they will have stumbled across Yuli’s gold.
“He's not necessarily emotional, but he is sensitive, and I think that everyone cares what their teammates and the sentiment of what they think of the player,” manager Dave Roberts said of Darvish. “Yu is right there, and it meant a lot to him for players to come out and say that for him. And just know that we have all the confidence in him for [Wednesday] night.”
Those four runs allowed by Darvish matched his total allowed in his previous five starts, during which he had a 0.88 ERA with 35 strikeouts and only two walks. Including the postseason, Darvish has a 3.59 ERA in his 12 starts with the Dodgers, with 75 strikeouts and 15 walks.
“We have some of best pitchers on the planet here in this locker room, and he’s one of them,” said Rich HIll. “We’re going to see a really awesome game, with a lot of conviction behind his pitches. It’s going to be awesome.”
Darvish in Game 3 had the shortest Dodgers postseason start since Hiroki Kuroda got just four outs in Game 3 of the 2009 NLCS, and the club’s shortest World Series start since John Tudor walked off the mound with an elbow injury after four outs in Game 3 in 1988.
Could the reported slicker World Series balls have affected Darvish in his clunker?
“Before the the third game, I threw a bullpen session with a regular-season ball. I didn't really realize until I got to the mound, and I knew that my slider wasn't breaking and sharp,” Darvish said. “I couldn't finish my pitches. I couldn't get that final touch. It just didn't make sense.”
Darvish on Tuesday said he used a World Series ball during his bullpen session in preparation for his Game 7 start, to get a better feel.
“We have a lot of faith in Yu,” said Clayton Kershaw, who will be available out of the bullpen on Wednesday night. “He’s pitched great for us, and I know he’s ready to go.”
World Series Game 7 info
First pitch: 5:20 p.m.
TV: Fox (coverage starts at 4:30 p.m.)
Announcers: Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal, Tom Verducci
Online streaming: Fox Sports Go
Local radio: AM 570 (Charley Steiner, Rick Monday)
National radio: ESPN Radio (Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone)