In NLCS Game 3, Yu Darvish pitched six-plus great innings. He only let up one run off of six hits, a home run from Kyle Schwarber in the very first inning. He walked one batter, threw 59 strikes in his 81 pitches, and struck out seven. The Dodgers won, and they’re up three games to nil on the Cubs, on the verge of a World Series berth.
But besides all of those great baseball stats, and how happy Dodgers fans are probably feeling right now, something else beautiful happened. Something great, and something that we might not see again in our lifetimes.
Yu Darvish registered an RBI. It was his second career RBI and the first pitcher RBI in the postseason for the Dodgers since 2013. He’s the first Dodgers pitcher to walk with the bases loaded ever.
Now, it was thanks to a bases loaded walk courtesy of Carl Edwards Jr. throwing four straight balls with Darvish at the plate, but it was still incredible.
In between all of the other random chaos in this game — 35-year-old Andre Ethier hitting a playoff home run, the ball getting stuck in the ivy, the Chicago wind whipping pop-ups around like the were whiffle balls in the breeze — this was the moment that stood out for me.
Because what are the chances that:
- Darvish is pitching well enough by the sixth to bat for himself.
- The bases are loaded.
- Edwards Jr., a competent pitcher, has the yips enough on the fourth batter he faces to throw four straight fastballs out of the zone.
All of those things happening seem realistic, all of those things happening at once is a precious gift.
If you missed watching it live, you should watch it once straight through to familiarize yourself with how good this is. If you did watch the entire game, you might as well watch it again to refresh your memory. Why not?
Now, the first three pitches would be normal if taken individually. But collectively, Edwards Jr. is SHOOK. They all barely miss so it wasn’t a catastrophe or anything but it’s as if Darvish simply showing bunt messes with Edwards’ brain enough that he forgot what command of his pitches feels like.
The final pitch and what happened after though is really the pièce de résistance, what matters most here.
First, he showed bunt as usual. At this point he was a pro just from this at-bat alone, having had three consecutive pitches to practice it without actually having to attempt a bunt because they were all out of the zone. His bunting position is like an impressionist painting that will be appreciated hundreds of years from now.
Perfectly set, patiently waiting, with his knees bent just so and his back angled in just the right manner as to allow his bat to find it’s way over the plate with ease. It’s like an instructional bunting video up in here.
Then, when the pitch had been thrown for ball four, Darvish backed away as if he was preparing for a fifth pitch, before the umpire signaled that it was a walk. It was only his second walk this year, so he’s absolutely forgiven for not immediately jogging to first as many other batters would do without thinking.
Once the umpire did signal that it was a walk, and Darvish realized, things got SO GREAT. SO SO GREAT. He did a little fist bump, just to himself and not too flashily, to celebrate drawing the walk.
It’s not a major fist bump to celebrate adding a run to the Dodgers’ (at that point slim) lead, but a self-satisfied “yay I did it!” fist bump. It’s so contained, so perfectly controlled while still being enthusiastic, and so very Darvish. It’s kind of like when a butterfly lands on a flower in front of you, pretends it doesn’t notice you looking at it, and then twitches its wings in such a way that the colors magically ripple and change before flying away again.
Something you might not see again, but you’ll remember forever. That fist bump is the most underrated part of this whole at-bat.
The not-most-underrated-part-actually-the-clear-best-part of the at-bat was the last thing Darvish did, the bat flip.
Except it wasn’t a bat flip it was a bat toss and he did it with authority. THIS IS A BAT TOSS FOR THE GROUND.
It’s nearing 3 a.m. on the East Coast right now and this is bringing a legitimate tear to my eye.
If you’re wondering if that exists in GIF form — why yes, yes it does. And here it is for you to watch it as many times in a row as you want.
Give it a 10 out of 10. The perfect score. He blew out all the candles on the birthday cake in one breath, he stuck the landing on one leg, he hit a half court shot on his first heave, he landed on a dollar twice in a row on the Price Is Right wheel.
However you want to put it, this was the cherry on top of the RBI walk Sunday. It was just unexpected enough on top of everything else that it made me smile from ear to ear. No matter what else happens in Darvish’s career this will be the answer to a fun trivia question about the 2017 playoffs. “Who is the only Dodgers pitcher to walk with the bases loaded?” And then you’ll know the answer.
The next time a pitcher draws a walk in the playoffs probably won’t be soon, the next time it’s a bases-loaded RBI walk will probably be even further in the future, so this is a moment to be cherished.
Yes, the Dodgers are up 3-0 and this series is all but over. They’ll almost certainly make the World Series from here and who knows, maybe they’ll win their first championship since the 80’s. But even if not, these are the baseball moments that people should remember for a long time. Not because it directly contributed to them winning or losing, but because it was a great baseball moment in a postseason full of them.
Long live the Yu Darvish RBI walk.