A day after Yu Darvish threw his last game for the Chicago Cubs, his first pro manager on Saturday called the right hand’s best performance in the majors.
Darvish allowed two runs on five hits and a walk, while hitting six over 6-2 / 3 innings, but that was not enough to keep the Cubs in the record season when they were knocked out at home in a 2-0 loss to the Miami Marlins .
Starting pitcher Yu Darvish # 11 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball to the Miami Marlins during Game Two of the National League Wild Card Series at Wrigley Field on October 2, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Getty / Kyodo)
On the other side of the field, Marlin’s infield coach Trey Hillman, who managed Darvish in Japan for three years, starting with the 2005 rookie season, had a bird’s eye view of his former protégé.
And although Darvish has had games with better numbers, Hillman did not hesitate to say that he had never seen him play better.
Trey Hillman # 3 of the Miami Marlins poses for a photo during Photo Day at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Getty / Kyodo)
“He was very good. He was most under control and most confident. I think he has been at a great league height,” Hillman told Kyodo News by telephone.
The 57-year-old Texan, who managed the Nippon Ham Fighters for the 2006 Series Series Championship, also held a leading position with the Kansas City Royals and skipper South Korea’s SK Wyverns for the 2018 Korean Series title.
Hillman and Darvish last shared the same field in the record season when Darvish was the losing pitcher in Game 5 of the 2007 Japan Series. The 1-0 defeat, a combined perfect play by the opponents, won the Chunichi Dragons championship and was Hillman’s Japanese swan song.
Despite another shutout loss, Hillman remained full of praise for his former star. Darvish, who won the 2007 Sawamura Award as the most impressive starting pitcher of Japanese pro baseball, is now a candidate to win the closest in majors, a Cy Young Award.
“He was under command and under control all day,” Hillman said. “He mixed and matched his places. I’m very proud of him. He seemed to have lost some of his confidence last year, but he has everything now.”
“I did not get the chance to talk to him. It was very cold and we only had a short punch before the game.”
The Marlins, managed by Don Mattingly, who Hillman has known since his time in the New York Yankees’ organization, long before he ever came to Japan, now advance to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series in the neutral spot for Houston’s Minute Maid Park.