May 28, 2017.

When Yu Darvish took the mound for the Rangers, he had the uncanny ability to keep both teams from scoring. The Rangers, for some reason, struggled to score runs for Darvish.


On the very first pitch of the game from a Toronto Blue Jays pitcher, Shin-Soo Choo hit a home run.

On the next 145 pitches of the game from a Toronto Blue Jays pitcher, the Rangers were unable to do anything.

They should have quit while they were ahead.

Same goes for Yu Davish.

He cruised through four innings. Then, in the fifth, he committed the cardinal sin of walking the number nine hitter in the Blue Jays order. The Rangers have walked the opponent’s last place hitter twenty-two times this year, by far the most in baseball. The opponent’s number nine hitter has an embarrassing .340 on-base percentage against the Rangers.

This particular number nine hitter, Luke Maile, came up the plate with an imposing .060 batting average. Rather than throwing a fastball right down the middle and challenging a guy who is obviously contact challenged, Yu Darvish nibbled. He walked Maile on five pitches. A .060 hitter. A guy with four major league home runs in three seasons. A guy most pitchers can outhit. A guy hitting just sixty points higher than everyone reading this article.

And Darvish nibbles and walks him.

Then, he abandons his fastball altogether and decides a steady diet of sliders is going to do the trick. A couple of batter later, Jose Bautista saw his eighth slider of the day.

One pitch turned into a three-run homer. A loss. A fifth loss in a row. A sixth loss in the last seven. And another game in which Yu Darvish was almost good enough but not quite. Not an ace. Not a number one. Maybe a number 1.5.

The Rangers took advantage of only one pitch. The very first.

The Blue Jays took advantage of only one pitch. Darvish’s slider they saw over and over and over and over again.

One pitch was all it took.

With twelve more strikeouts, that one first pitch was about all the Rangers could hit.