It’s a Saturday in June, months away from the regular season ending and the playoffs getting underway. It’s just another game. Well, another game for everyone, except one player.
It’s not another game for Yu Darvish. For the 32-year-old, this will be one of the most important, and nerve-wrecking starts of his big-league career.
This won’t be the first time Darvish takes the mound at Dodger Stadium, Dodgers fans are well aware of that.
The last time he took the mound here? Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. A game fans, players, and most importantly Darvish are still trying to forget. After being acquired at the trade deadline, the Dodgers turned to Darvish in the most important game of their season. Things couldn’t have gone any worse.
He lasted only 1.2 innings, allowing five runs, and putting LA in a hole they couldn’t get out of. The Astros went on to win the game and the World Series, and the legacy of Darvish was immediately cemented in the minds of Dodgers fans.
“I like Yu,” Dave Roberts said when asked about his former player. “I thought he had some really good moments with us. People want to reference game 7 a lot, which was unfortunate for all of us. I’m not sure what’s in his mind. We like him, but we’ll be ready for him.”
It’s true, fans forget the good moments with Darvish, especially his stellar pitching to help get his team into the World Series. In his two playoff games with LA prior to the World Series, he threw 11 1⁄3 innings, going 2-0 and posting an ERA of 1.59. He had 14 strikeouts and one walk, and held opponents to a .195 average.
After a rough start to the season this year, Darvish is prepared to give it his all and make sure he leaves Dodger Stadium with a win this time. “For him, it’s a personal thing,” Roberts said. “I know he loved his time in LA. Game 7 didn’t go well for any of us.”
With Darvish making his return, it’s expected that he’ll receive some of the loudest boos ever heard from Dodger Stadium. “I think it’ll be mixed,” Roberts said. “I don’t want him to get booed, but fans can make their own decisions.”
Though Roberts still cares for his former player, he’s hoping Darvish has another repeat of what we saw from him last time. “No I don’t want him to pitch well,” he jokingly said. “Sorry, Yu. Absolutely not. He can pitch well his next start.”