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Padres ace Yu Darvish makes history, delivers finest performance of the season amid umpire checks

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SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Padres ace Yu Darvish loudly complained it wasn’t right, nor the time, for Major League Baseball to ban illegal foreign substances.

He took the mound Monday night in front of a frenzied sellout crowd at Petco Park, and his spin rate was dramatically down on all four of his primary pitches.

Guess what?

Darvish not only survived, but delivered his finest pitching performance of the season in the Padres’ 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He struck out 11 batters, including seven in a row at one juncture.

He gave up just two hits and one run in six innings, and made history, becoming the quickest pitcher to strike out 1,500 batters, achieving the feat in 197 games, nine fewer than Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.

“I knew I was close,’’ Darvish said, “I was pretty proud of myself.’’

Padres starting pitcher Yu Darvish struck out 11 batters in the win over the Dodgers.
Padres starting pitcher Yu Darvish struck out 11 batters in the win over the Dodgers.

The umpiring crew checked him twice, finding nothing illegal.

Darvish's spin rate on his slider was down 284 rpm from his season average.

The spin rate on his sinker, which ranked in the top 1% of all pitchers, was down 217 rpm.

The cutter was down 170 rpm.

The four-seam fastball was down 116 rpm.

No matter.

The man still dominated, relying primarily on his cutter, generating 18 swings-and-misses, and averaging 96-mph, up a tick over his season average.

Darvish simply went old-school, and pitched, suffocating the Dodgers’ offense all night long.

In one stretch, he struck out Justin Turner, Will Smith, Matt Beaty, Chris Taylor, Zach McKinstry, Zach Reks and Julio Urias in order.

Darvish struck out everyone in the Dodgers lineup except for Betts and Gavin Lux.

Oh, and after complaining last week that pitchers would lose control without using the sticky stuff, Darvish walked only one batter and didn’t hit a soul.

“He was really good,’’ Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “He had all of his pitches working, his secondary pitches were tight, they were breaking.

“He had a lot of swings and misses against a club that doesn’t punch out much. That shows you how good his stuff is. He’s got a ton of weapons.’’

Who knows, maybe all of the sticky stuff was overrated, although Darvish did say he was nervous when he was checked by the umpires, knowing he was clean, but fearing something could go wrong.

“When I’m thinking something like that, facing a team like the Dodgers,’’ Darvish said, “things aren’t going to turn out right. … It was business as usual. I just went pitch by pitch and wanted to do the best I can.’’

Who needs to worry about spin rate when you’ve got an arsenal like Darvish’s, and who can really complain about the crackdown when pitchers were the ones who abused the illegal substances?

Whether Darvish used substances for his grip, or to increase his spin rate in the past, he showed his fellow pitchers Monday night that he doesn't need it and is as dominant as ever.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Padres' Yu Darvish makes history, dominates Dodgers in win

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