It’s safe to say that part of the reason Yu Darvish didn’t threaten another perfect game on Sunday night is because he wasn’t facing the Astros. The other reason is that the finger blister, that developed during Tuesday’s masterpiece, continued to bother him tonight and forced him from the game after five innings,
Darvish opened the game with a walk, a hit by pitch and a walk in a two-run first inning. He was better afterwards, but still far less than perfect while giving up three runs on six hits and four walks. He struck out six before being replaced by Robbie Ross.
Darvish first felt the blister on his changeups while striking out 14 Astros in 8 2/3 scoreless innings five days ago. He said he’d be fine to make his start tonight, but while he was able to gut it out, he wasn’t his usual self. The Rangers will probably decide in a day or two whether to let him pitch with the blister again or if it makes sense to have him skip a turn.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.