In the course of just a few minutes Saturday evening, Yu Darvish went from working on a no-hitter to being removed from the game without completing five innings for the third time in four starts.
Darvish allowed his first hit with two out in the fourth, but it was the fifth inning that was his undoing. With two out and a runner on first, Darvish walked Rockies pitcher Tyler Anderson.
The next five Rockies reached base, four by hits, and five runs scored in the inning, all the Rockies would need for a 5-2 win over the Cubs.
This game started out well, though. Albert Almora Jr. and Javier Baez, so far at least, are working out well at the top of the lineup. Both singled, and then:
Willson Contreras’ double was close enough to the yellow line to be reviewed as a possible home run; the call of double on the field was ruled “call stands” and the Cubs had a 2-0 lead.
And Darvish was solid through the first four innings, helped out in the third by Almora:
It’s not easy to run down baseballs in the huge outfield in Coors Field, but Almora almost made that one look easy. Great reaction after the catch, too.
After the Rockies’ five-run outburst in the fifth, the Cubs went down meekly the rest of the game. The last 14 Cubs were retired in order. One of those was Anthony Rizzo leading off the sixth with a bunt attempt for a hit. That was, I think, a reasonable idea at the time. The Cubs trailed by three, certainly not an insurmountable lead in Coors Field, and needed baserunners. Rizzo’s bunt was placed a little too softly and Rockies catcher Tony Wolters was able to pounce on it quickly and throw Rizzo out.
The bullpen once again did a good job of keeping the game close for an attempted comeback. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson and Luke Farrell (the latter making his Cubs debut) threw 3⅓ innings of shutout ball, though with three walks, one by Wilson, who still didn’t seem to have good command.
And thus, I present to you the only other Cubs highlight of the game:
First @MLB at-bat, first MLB hit ✅@Cubs No. 14 prospect David Bote is batting after hitting one for extra bases in his first opportunity.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 22, 2018
He'll bat 3rd in the 4th inning. Watch live: https://t.co/ObAOtetZRm pic.twitter.com/cYeIyo0Wmx
David Bote, making his major-league debut in his hometown, smacked a one-out double in the second inning. He wound up 1-for-3. Congratulations to Bote on getting a hit in his first big-league at-bat, though he was later caught attempting to steal third.
He also struck out twice, once on this pitch:
I guess “Bote” wasn’t in the @CubsUmp system yet, so it showed up as “Batter.” Plate umpire Jordan Baker also egregiously missed this call:
Still, those weren’t the reasons the Cubs lost. They’re going to have to figure out how to fix Darvish, and fast. These numbers aren’t good (well, for the bullpen they are):
This season in games started by Yu Darvish:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 22, 2018
Darvish: 6.86 ERA, 19.2 IP, 1.627 WHIP
Bullpen: 1.10 ERA, 16.1 IP, 0.918 WHIP
These quotes seem to hint that Darvish and Contreras aren’t on the same page:
“The big leagues, no matter how many outs, you have to keep attacking the hitters,” Contreras said. “After the second out, I noticed he was throwing 91-92 mph in trying to locate the fastball. I told him you can’t get too comfortable in the big leagues.
“You have to keep attacking the hitters and hope we all learn from it. … In the fifth was crucial for us, and he had us (messed) up.”
Darvish didn’t espouse the same observations as Contreras.
“I don’t think so,” Darvish said. “I treat every pitch, every batter the same, regardless of how many outs I have.”
Let’s hope those two get on the same page, and quickly.
I wanted to take a moment out from this recap to send my thoughts and best wishes to the family, friends and teammates of White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar, who collapsed in the dugout after pitching Friday evening and was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage as the result of a ruptured aneurysm. Those can be very, very dangerous and he’s fortunate he got quick medical treatment. Reports from the White Sox are that he did speak to people around him and to his wife afterwards, and is in critical but stable condition. Along with the entire baseball community, I send my hopes for a full recovery.
The Cubs will go for the series win Sunday afternoon at 2:10 p.m. CT. Jose Quintana goes for the Cubs and German Marquez for the Rockies. TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago.