LOS ANGELES — They’ve already provided so many moments, memories and nights that the Dodgers owe their fans nothing.
Nothing, at least, until October, when they owe their fans the same thing they owe themselves – a World Series run that cements their place in baseball forever.
Still, on Wednesday, this team that simply refuses to disappoint provided more anyway, the Dodgers gifting their fans a potential second ace, one whose greater contribution remains down the road.
And then, naturally, they topped the package with another absurd come-from-behind, final-at-bat victory, one that left Manager Dave Roberts muttering, “This is ridiculous.”
Yu Darvish made his home debut, a very real step toward October, a few hours after Clayton Kershaw made a simulated stride forward.
Kershaw, rebounding from a back issue, threw 38 pitches under game-like conditions in an empty stadium – an exercise the Dodgers deemed a success – before Darvish climbed the same mound in front of what eventually would be a sellout.
As for Darvish’s effort, it wasn’t a failure, not all, the right-hander allowing three runs in six innings in a game the Dodgers won, 5-4, over the White Sox.
The lasting feeling and overall mood, however, were slightly more tempered, especially after Darvish was pulled before throwing a pitch in the seventh because of tightness in his back.
Roberts said the move was “more precaution” than anything and assured that Darvish would make his next start. Still, any potential injury to any potential contributor at this time of year is worth watching.
“There’s going to be a lot of energy,” Roberts predicted before the game. “He’s excited about it. The radar gun readings will be lighting up.”
Sure enough, Darvish’s first pitch produced a shocking number: 105. But that was the exit velocity of the ball Leury Garcia clanged off the right-field foul pole.
One fastball. One swing. 1-0, Chicago.
Yu-hoo, Dodgers fans? Yu, who? answered the visiting team.
“It’s one game, and it’s a regular-season game,” Roberts said before that opening pitch became a departing shot. “But I think that to make his first start at home … it’s something as a kid in Japan, dreaming about playing for the Dodgers. … This is something that he envisioned.”
Well, maybe not exactly this, Darvish falling behind so quickly that Dodger Stadium seemed to briefly freeze, as if genuinely stunned, allowing the sound of the ball smacking the pole to be…