Yu Darvish was flirting with history for a little while tonight, but he ended up notching his fourth 14-strikeout game of the season in a 7-1 win over the Diamondbacks.
In a thoroughly-dominating performance, Darvish gave up just five hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings for his 10th victory of the season. He had six strikeouts through the first two innings and struck out a pair in each of the next the four frames.
Our own Matthew Pouliot notes that Darvish has four of the six 14-strikeout games in MLB this season, with Chris Sale and Anibal Sanchez being the only others. Among Darvish’s 14-strikeout games, he has three where he hasn’t issued a walk. As Adam J. Norris of Lone Star Ball points out, that’s pretty darn rare for a career, let alone a single season.
Darvish is the seventh pitcher in history with at least four 14-strikeout games in a season, joining Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Sam McDowell, and Mark Langston. He currently leads the majors with 186 strikeouts in 138 2/3 innings and has reached double-digits in eight of his 21 starts.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.