Yu Darvish did not start out this game well, not at all. Two walks, a hit batter and a couple of singles produced a run in the first inning, a frame in which Darvish threw 39 pitches. You could be forgiven if you thought, “Here we go again.”
But after that, Darvish turned into the dominant pitcher the Cubs thought they were getting this season. He threw just 55 more pitches from the second through the sixth inning, allowed no more hits and just three further baserunners, two on walks. He ended up with a solid six-inning outing and Cubs batters smashed three home runs, resulting in a 6-1 victory over the Reds that gave the Cubs the series three games to one, and a winning road trip, four wins to two losses. The win also put the Cubs back to six games over .500, matching their season high to date.
The Cubs wasted no time getting that first-inning run back. Ian Happ walked leading off the second, and Kyle Schwarber followed:
Schwarber’s eighth of the year gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead. That lead didn’t last long, because Javier Baez was next and sent a ball into orbit:
Darvish kept mowing Reds hitters down, and Ben Zobrist added to the lead with a solo homer in the fifth [VIDEO], making the score 4-1.
I mentioned Darvish had allowed three baserunners from the second through the sixth, two on walks. The other was Alex Blandino, who was hit by a pitch leading off the fifth. One out later, Javy showed us some El Mago [VIDEO].
That’s just incredible presence of mind, realizing he didn’t have enough time to step on the base and throw, so instead he just touched second with his glove, then threw in plenty of time to complete the inning-ending double play. Javy also had three hits on the afternoon, and hopefully he’s left his slump behind.
Schwarber got tossed from the game by the plate umpire, Chicago-area native John Tumpane, for ... well, I guess making too cogent a comment after he was called out on strikes to end the seventh inning. I think Tumpane had a little too short a fuse on that ejection, but by then the game was well in hand.
Pedro Strop threw an uneventful seventh, Carl Edwards Jr. a scoreless eighth, and Brandon Morrow worked the ninth in a non-save situation, largely because he hadn’t pitched since Tuesday. That, too, worked out fine. Morrow showed no rust from the five-day layoff, as he struck out the side to nail down the win.
Regarding Darvish, check out these numbers.
Yu Darvish, first four starts: 19⅔ innings, 1.627 WHIP, 11 walks, 21 strikeouts, 6.86 ERA
Yu Darvish, next four starts: 20⅓ innings, 1.230 WHIP, 9 walks, 28 strikeouts, 3.10 ERA
The second group of four starts, which includes this one, is much more in line with Darvish’s career numbers (in fact, the ERA and strikeouts/nine innings numbers are a bit better). This is, I believe, what we can expect from Darvish going forward. The start he made in Atlanta and this one were dominant: two earned runs in 10 total innings, five hits allowed, four walks, 12 strikeouts. His next outing should be next Sunday night at Wrigley Field against the Giants.
Oh, and Cubs? Please, please ditch the blue alternate jerseys.
Cubs record wearing road gray jerseys: 9-2
Cubs record wearing blue alt jerseys: 3-9
The Cubs will enjoy an off day Monday, then take on the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field in a two-game set beginning Tuesday evening. Tyler Chatwood will go for the Cubs and Trevor Bauer for the Indians. Note the game time Tuesday: 6:05 p.m. CT, and TV coverage locally is on WGN. The game will also be on ESPN nationally.