Darvish left spinning as Dodgers fall into World Series deficit
HOUSTON — Pitching in his World Series debut, Yu Darvish kept turning his head as balls clanked off the outfield wall or soared over it.
Darvish had never pitched fewer than three innings in 135 previous big league outings. On baseball’s biggest stage, he got just five outs and left with a four-run deficit in Friday’s night’s 5-3 loss to Houston, which put the Dodgers in a 2-1 World Series hole.
If Los Angeles is to win the World Series, the Dodgers will have to do it at home for the first time since 1963 — and with a bullpen that has covered 13 1/3 innings over the past two games.
Ahead of his start, Darvish joked he should receive a gracious greeting because he wore a “Houston Strong” T-shirt last month to raise money for hurricane relief.
“Maybe I can use a ball that doesn’t have much pop in it,” he said through a translator.
Houston had enough pop to keep the ornamental train above Minute Maid Park’s left-field wall sounding its whistle often early in Friday’s game.
Darvish threw 49 pitches and had just one swing and miss — by Carlos Correa on a 98 mph fastball in the first inning. There was also a missed bunt attempt by Marwin Gonzalez before his run-scoring single in the second.
The 31-year-old Japanese right-hander seemed amped up. His fastball averaged 94.7 mph during the season, according to Brooks Baseball, but with higher velocity against the Astros, his slider flattened.
Acquired from Texas at the July 31 trade deadline, Darvish had been 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in a pair of postseason starts, winning Game 3s against Arizona in the Division Series and the Cubs in the League Championship Series.
But he seemed out of sort right from the start against Houston, falling behind leadoff hitter George Springer 3-1 and allowing an RBI double.
Yuli Gurriel drove a slider into the left field Crawford Boxes opening the second, and Josh Reddick doubled to left for his first extra-base hit in 49 plate appearances this postseason — the third extra-base hit off Darvish among the Astros’ first six batters.
Evan Gattis walked and, after a visit to the mound by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Gonzalez hit a 373-foot single off the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead.
Brian McCann lined an RBI single into right and Alex Bregman hit a sacrifice fly with one out, and Darvish was done for the day, skirting the edge of the World Series logo as he walked to the third-base dugout.
Yasiel Puig also had a bad day. With Los Angeles trailing 4-1 in the fourth, he singled down the third-base line, ran past first, slowed to almost a stop, then noticed the ball was bounding off the low wall. He then started for second and was thrown out by Gonzalez.
Reliever Tony Watson added his own errant moment, throwing Gattis’ chopper past first baseman Cody Bellinger in the fifth, allowing Reddick to score from first base on what was ruled an infield hit and a two-base error.
After a strong start by Clayton Kershaw in the opener and a good-but-abbreviated one from Rich Hill in Game 2, the Dodgers have failed to retire the side in order for 14 consecutive innings. The bullpen stretched a scoreless streak to 28 innings during Game 2 on Wednesday night before blowing a save and losing in 11 innings.