Yu Darvish's shaky debut in Major League Baseball Tuesday prompted nervous reactions from Japan's press who had been eagerly awaiting the Japanese-born pitcher's first run out with the big-spending Texas Rangers.
Darvish, a two-time Most Valuable Player with the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan League, was tagged for five runs in the first two innings against the Seattle Mariners before the Rangers rallied for an 11-5 victory.
Darvish tweeted to his Japanese fans that his body and mind were not properly coordinated and said his weak performance was not worthy of an outpouring of congratulatory tweets.
"First victory after 5 and 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 5 runs. Horrible form, but threw tenaciously with strong spirit. Every year I struggle in my first game with my body and mind not in sync. But offense with four homeruns mounted a comeback and won. Was good the team won," he tweeted.
When a fan congratulated him, he responded, "Please do not congratulate me for that (>_<)", showing a pictorial representation of a sad and frustrated face with eyes tightly shut.
The game was shown live by national broadcaster NHK in the morning through early afternoon, while the news dominated the front pages of the evening editions of major Japanese newspapers.
It was also the top story in evening TV news programmes.
Japanese newspapers were united in pointing out Darvish's failure to control his pitches, particularly two-seam fastballs that were devoured by Mariner batters.
"Lost control under Major pressure," a Yomiuri Shimbun headline said.
"Darvish's first appearance, bitter victory," an Asahi Shimbun headline said.
"The number-one pitcher of Japanese baseball seemed as if he was being crushed by the tension of his first appearance," the Yomiuri said.
Asahi said: "His first Major League victory fell into his lap, rather than him earning it."
Darvish's apparent loss of rhythm might be a result of his lack of familiarity with the ball used in the Major League, which is considered to be more slippery than that used in Japan, the Yomiuri said.
His high school coach told the Asahi that it was only the beginning of Darvish's likely successful career at the pinnacle of world baseball.
"If he can manage to throw his real pitches, he is sure to collect 18 wins," Masahiro Wako told the Asahi.
Source: AFP Global Edition