NEW YORK – Yu Darvish fit right in on the Dodgers: He dominated in his debut.
The prized new pitcher struck out 10 over seven innings of three-hit ball during his first game with Los Angeles, leading the top team in the majors past the New York Mets 6-0 on Friday night.
“It couldn’t have went any better,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I can’t even tell you how excited he was to throw that first pitch.”
Making his first major league start for a team other than the Texas Rangers following his trade to the Dodgers on Monday, Darvish allowed three hits and a walk at New York’s Citi Field.
“It felt strange in the first inning, but from the second, I was able to pitch like usual,” said Darvish, who surrendered a hit on his first pitch and also issued a walk in the opening frame but got out of trouble. “I didn’t allow runs today, so now I’m going into my next start feeling confident from the first inning.”
Working aggressively in the zone with both his fastball and offspeed pitches from the start, the curveball became a huge weapon as the game went on, getting him strikes and making it easier to put batters away with a sharp fastball.
The Dodgers’ Chris Taylor opened the game with a superb at-bat, running the count full after falling behind 0-2. Mets starter Jacob DeGrom missed with his ninth pitch and Taylor launched the center-cut fastball off the top of the wall in left for his 14th home run of the season.
“I didn’t think we’d be able to score so easily,” Darvish said.
He joked about the difficulty of working on longer rest than usual because of the trade.
“I was originally scheduled to start on Tuesday (with the Rangers), so that got pushed back three days. Because of that I had to rush in here without being able to prepare perfectly. I did what I could.”
DeGrom kept the Mets in the game, despite allowing five hits and three walks, but a lot of tenacious at-bats by Dodgers hitters forced his pitch count up and he was gone after five innings and 99 pitches. Yasiel Puig homered in the second and Taylor singled and scored in the fifth on a double play grounder. Chase Utley also homered for the Dodgers, hitting a two-run shot off reliever Josh Smoker in the sixth
Mets manager Terry Collins, who managed the Orix Buffaloes in the Pacific League in 2007, when Darvish was that league’s MVP, credited Darvish, but said the key was his own starter.
“He (deGrom) was off,” Collins said. “He scuffled. Five innings from him? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. You can’t make mistakes.
“Yu was very good tonight. We didn’t have a lot of scoring opportunities, but you’ve got to capitalize.”
On the best extended roll by a big league team since World War II, the Dodgers are 42-7 since June 7 — a stretch unequaled in franchise history. They’ve won 22 of 25 since July 4, with all three losses coming against Atlanta.
With Darvish, the Dodgers appear even more formidable.
The four-time All-Star snapped a five-game losing streak and won for the first time in nine outings since June 12 at Houston.
“His stuff looked electric,” Utley said.
Darvish went 6-9 with a 4.01 ERA in 22 starts for the Rangers — and his last one was a dud. The right-hander gave up a career-high 10 runs over 3⅔ innings July 26 in a 22-10 loss to Miami, but his first game with Los Angeles went as smooth as could be.
“He seems like he just fits in perfect. I was just happy that we got a horse — another horse — that we could fit in into the rotation, so now you’re not seeing three lefties in a row,” catcher Yasmani Grandal said. “We knew we needed a righty starter.”
Darvish silenced a Mets team that has lost five of six.
“He throws anything at any time and he was very good tonight,” New York slugger Jay Bruce said.