Yu Darvish does not struggle against many teams. The ace of the Texas Rangers’ staff usually handles every team with success and though this is only his third season in the majors, the righty has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the league.
However, the Oakland Athletics have proved to be his kryptonite so far in his young career. This trend continued Monday night in Arlington when Darvish only lasted 3.1 innings in his first loss of the year. He gave up eight hits, 6 runs (4 earned), walked two and struck out four in the shortest outing of his career.
In nine starts against the A’s Darvish is 1-7 with a 4.73 ERA in 53.1 innings. Against all other teams he has posted a 3.09 ERA.
Dave Sessions of MLB.com quoted Darvish about his outing last night and the Japanese native was very frank regarding his struggles against Oakland:
They have a really good game plan against me. As a starting pitcher you always want to go deeper in the game. Obviously I was disappointed to only throw three-plus innings, but this is something that happens to any pitcher. What happened, happened, so I just don’t want to dwell on it and do much better in the next outing.
Darvish only threw 83 pitches, but manager Ron Washington conceded that it was not going to get any better. In other words, every pitcher has those games when you just do not have it. However, the numbers against the A’s are remarkable considering how they contrast with his numbers against the other teams. Darvish though is not the only good pitcher to have a single team as his Achilles’ heel.
Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers has a 4.28 ERA against the Indians in 36 career starts. C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees has a 4.68 ERA against the Red Sox in 29 career starts and though he is a Yankee now, Sabathia posted a 6.16 ERA against them in 9 starts. Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals has a 4.75 ERA in 21 appearances against the Reds. This is obviously a small sampling, but all pitchers have that team that gives them fits.
As the season is progressing it is starting to appear that Darvish will need to find a way to beat his rival however. With A.J. Griffin lost for the season for the A’s, there will be more opportunities for the Rangers to gain some ground in the division and make a run at the title. With no clear dominant team a month into the season, the division is wide open and the Rangers have played pretty well considering their own injury issues. Oakland’s pitching has been superb so far in 2014 (2.84 staff ERA), but it is a safe bet that they will not be able to keep that up for the rest of the season.
In the end though, it’s imperative that the Rangers best pitcher finds a way to break-through against the Athletics if Texas wants to halt the division crown run by the A’s.