Timely hitting? Check. Solid bullpen work? Check. A good-enough start? Uh, check.
They got started early. In the first inning, Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch and a single and walk loaded the bases. Another walk made it 1-0 and that brought David Bote to the plate [VIDEO].
Bote’s two-run double made it 3-0 and, as it turned out, that would be all the runs the Cubs needed.
Part of the reason for that statement was this outstanding catch [VIDEO] by Albert Almora Jr. on the very first Marlins hitter who faced Darvish.
I wrote “good enough” to describe Darvish’s start because it was... well, just good enough. He gave up several long fly balls similar to that one and issued four walks. Marlins catcher Chad Wallach homered off him, just the second of Wallach’s brief big-league career. But since the Cubs were piling up runs, it was “good enough.”
Two more Cubs runs came across in the fifth inning, the first on this double [VIDEO] by Javier Baez.
The second run in the inning scored as a result of a Cubs challenge. After Baez’s double, a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases with two out. Bote hit a ground ball to shortstop [VIDEO].
You can see Willson Contreras immediately signal to the dugout to take a look at the play. Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas let the ball play him instead of coming in on the ball and Contreras easily beat the throw, allowing the Cubs’ fifth run to score.
With two out in the sixth inning, Darvish apparently decided to exact a little revenge for the three Cubs who had been hit by a pitch in this game. Check out the velocities on these pitches to Lewis Brinson:
Now those are speeds we haven’t seen from Darvish before. After that, Yu was excused for the remainder of the evening. Darvish, at least, has a sense of humor about all the walks:
Darvish, on why he walked none in his previous— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) April 16, 2019
start and four on Monday: "I’m Yu Darvish."
That ball: Crushed!
Cubs relievers (Kyle Ryan, Steve Cishek and Tim Collins) combined for 3⅓ shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk and striking out five. The bullpen has been excellent over the last week or so (except for Saturday’s walk-filled debacle) and the team’s relief ERA has dropped to 5.63, which doesn’t sound so great except less than a week ago it was over 8.
This was a solid effort by everyone. Bryant, though he was just 1-for-3, reached base three times and is now sporting a .354 OBP. Eventually, he’ll get out of his power slump.
Bote drove in three runs. Baez had three hits:
This is the first time Javier Báez has had consecutive three-hit games#Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 16, 2019
And Contreras is off to an outstanding start. The home run was his sixth — he hit 10 all of last year! — and he is now sporting an excellent slash line of .341/.471/.829. Contreras is going to have to shoulder most or all of the catching duty with Victor Caratini out:
Caratini underwent surgery on left hamate bone, estimated time of recovery remains 4-6 weeks— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) April 15, 2019
Taylor Davis, who is on the 25-man roster replacing Caratini, has yet to play. With the Cubs having four (!) off days between now and May 2, Contreras could probably start all the games. Perhaps the Cubs will be able to acquire a veteran backup catcher by then.
Announced attendance at Marlins Park Monday night was 9,888, seemingly mostly Cubs fans. On the TV broadcast, Jim Deshaies quipped, “That’s a bad attendance day at Sloan Park.”
The Cubs go for two in a row over the Marlins Tuesday evening. Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs and Pablo Lopez goes for the Marlins. Game time is again 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago.