One thing is for sure: Yu Darvish appears to be healthy starting the 2019 regular season.
One other thing is for sure: Darvish needs to go back to the drawing board and work on his command. He had the shortest outing of his career and set a career high in walks, and no, we are not talking about Tyler Chatwood.
The Cubs broke out to an early 3-0 lead but the Rangers got a three-run homer from Joey Gallo off Carl Edwards Jr. in the eighth inning and beat the Cubs 8-6, despite some outstanding relief work from Jose Quintana. (Weird, I know, but this entire game was pretty strange.)
Darvish didn’t allow the Rangers to put a ball in play until their 11th batter — the first 10 either walked or struck out. By then, RBI singles by Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber had given the Cubs that 3-0 lead.
Willson Contreras’ RBI double [VIDEO] made it 4-1 Cubs in the third.
Darvish stopped walking people in the bottom of that inning, instead giving up a long two-run homer to Asdrubal Cabrera. Darvish walk facts:
Yu Darvish has walked 3 in each of the first 2 innings of this start. That's something that Tyler Chatwood did NOT do last season.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 31, 2019
Yu Darvish is the first #Cubs starter with 3+ walks in each of the first 2 innings since Kerry Wood 9/22/2000 (4 in first, 4 in 2nd before being pulled after 1.1 IP).— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 31, 2019
Enough? I thought so. For his part, Darvish might have let the situation get to him:
Here in Arlington, where Darvish said he “grew up” as a pitcher, he was making his first regular-season start for the Cubs since May 20.
There is no denying that the right-hander had a lot on his mind.
”I could see his body language. He got really emotional,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said. “In this situation, I think any player could get emotional.”
Obviously, that’s got to change before his next start.
Schwarber extended the lead to 5-3 with this mammoth home run in the 5th [VIDEO].
That ball: Crushed!
Contreras’ second double of the game, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly made it 6-3.
Quintana, making his first relief appearance since Game 5 of the division series against the Nationals in 2017 (and first in the regular season since his rookie year, 2012 with the White Sox), threw pretty well, but eventually ran out of gas and allowed a pair of runs in the seventh, making it 6-5. Q did strike out eight in four innings of relief. Fun fact time!
For what it's worth, José Quintana is the first #Cubs reliever with 8 strikeouts in a game since Ángel Guzmán 6/16/2006— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 31, 2019
Unfortunately, CJ allowed a hit and a walk before the massive blast by Gallo, and that, as they say, was that. CJ’s velocity was down, according to the Jordan Bastian article linked above:
On a cool night in Arlington, Edwards averaged 92.9 mph with his fastball -- down from 94.5 mph overall in 2018. The reliever topped out at 94.2 mph, which was his average fastball speed in the first month last year.
That, too, is going to have to get better.
And even though Gallo’s homer was by a Cubs opponent, have a look:
This nifty pickoff [VIDEO] by Quintana in the fourth is worth a look.
And so is this caught-stealing by Contreras [VIDEO].
But Cubs pitchers issued 12 walks in this game, and you simply can’t do that and expect to win. The last time any Cubs team walked 12 opposing hitters in a game was this awful game June 28, 2002 against the White Sox, a game in which they blew an even bigger lead (8-0) than they had Saturday night. Rangers pitchers walked seven, and usually seven walks, eight hits and six runs should be enough to win a game. But Cubs pitchers are simply going to have to do better than this. This was not the way to end this very winnable game.
But in baseball, you generally get another chance the next day. Sunday, the Cubs will go for the series win with another former Ranger, Cole Hamels, on the mound. He’ll face one of our old friends, Lance Lynn. Game time is 3:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago. (There’s also a national broadcast on ESPN, available outside the Chicago and Dallas markets.)