Darvish shuffles the deck, deals vs. Mets

Darvish shuffles the deck, deals vs. Mets

SAN DIEGO — In case it wasn’t clear — and, sure, his numbers are a bit bloated from one very ugly start two months ago — Yu Darvish remains one of the most electric starting pitchers in baseball. After a night like this one, the Mets certainly wouldn’t argue otherwise.

Darvish turned in one of his most dominant performances of the season, pitching seven scoreless frames as the Padres cruised to a 7-0 victory over New York at Petco Park on Tuesday. The veteran right-hander carried a no-hitter into the sixth before Mets right fielder Mark Canha broke it up with a clean single. Darvish would finish having allowed only two hits and no walks, while striking out six.

“All night tonight, he just kept them off-balance,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “You never knew what was coming.”

That’s how it usually goes with Darvish, who used a dizzying blend of six pitches on Tuesday – including a particularly sharp cutter and healthier-than-usual doses of his splitter and his slow curve. He induced 16 whiffs, 20 called strikes and almost no quality contact whatsoever.

“When he’s on, he’s on,” said Padres third baseman Manny Machado, whose two-run single in the seventh put the game on ice. “When he’s out there dealing like he was tonight, it’s fun tonight, and it’s fun to play behind.”

Darvish did run into a bit of trouble early, plunking three hitters in the first two innings. Two of those were back-foot sliders off the toes of Mets batters. The other was nearly very costly to New York – a fastball that caught Pete Alonso as the Mets slugger attempted to check his swing. X-rays on Alonso’s hand were negative, but he was forced to exit the game.

Darvish escaped trouble in both innings. He then retired 14 straight before Canha’s single in the sixth. Darvish departed having thrown 100 pitches through seven innings, lowering his ERA to 3.61.

That mark is wholly respectable, of course. But it doesn’t tell the full story with Darvish. He has made 11 starts this season, and a full third of the 27 earned runs he’s allowed came in one brutal outing in San Francisco. Remove that blemish from the equation, and Darvish owns a 2.47 ERA with a 0.88 WHIP.

In short, Darvish is pitching like he has pitched for the better part of the past decade. Which is to say: Darvish is pitching like he’s still one of the best pitchers in baseball.

“We did a great job of keeping them at bay today,” Darvish said through a team interpreter. “And the offense did a great job of scoring runs for us.”

It didn’t take long for that run support to come either. Jurickson Profar opened the bottom of the first inning with a towering home run off Mets starter Taijuan Walker, marking the second leadoff home run of Profar’s career and the first since 2013.

Profar, who has thrived since his transition to the leadoff spot, reached base three more times via walk and was a part of three-run rallies in the second and seventh innings.

“When you have a guy like Yu on the mound, you get a couple runs early, and you feel really good,” Melvin said. “Especially when he gets off to a good start, is throwing all his pitches for strikes, not walking anybody. Then, to add on like that, it’s great.”

Melvin considered sending Darvish back out for the eighth inning. But the three-run seventh changed his plans. This was suddenly the perfect opportunity to get Adrian Morejon back into game action. The left-hander pitched two scoreless innings of relief in his first appearance since April 2021 Tommy John surgery.

“When I got out there, I was honestly a little bit more nervous than probably when I made my debut, just having gone through all that,” Morejon said. “But at the end of the day, I’m super happy to be here, and super happy to be back.”

So, to recap: The Padres got seven scoreless from Darvish. And seven runs from a resurgent offense. And, as a result, they found a soft landing for a 23-year-old lefty relief weapon, who might factor prominently into their bullpen plans this season?

“All in all,” Darvish said, “a good night.”

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