Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant homered in the same game for the 22nd time and second time this year (H/T: Chris Kamka) and the Cubs defeated the Marlins 4-1 at Wrigley Field, winning the series three games to one and increasing their N.L. Central lead over the Brewers to a full game, awaiting Milwaukee’s arrival at Wrigley Field for a three-game series beginning Friday.
There’s an elephant in the room here and I’ll get to that anon.
First, KB, with one out in the bottom of the first [VIDEO].
For Bryant, this was a significant home run anniversary:
Today is the 4-year anniversary of Kris Bryant's 1st MLB home run— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 9, 2019
And the 1-year anniversary of his 100th MLB home run.
So of course homered again today. #Cubs
That was home run number seven on the year for Bryant and number 114 for his career. The Cubs scored again in the inning; Javier Baez walked and a pair of singles, one by Kyle Schwarber, one by Albert Almora Jr., gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead. The Almora hit is worth a look [VIDEO].
That ball was well-struck, a 1-1 changeup that Almora was ready for and he hit it perfectly. After a horrendous start to this season, AA is hitting well, and certainly has earned more playing time.
The game continued 2-0 into the second, and third, but... OMG Yu Darvish. What on Earth is going on here? Here’s that proverbial “elephant in the room” I mentioned above. Darvish finally allowed a hit in the fourth, after a walk and a stolen base that made it 2-1, and the game was dragging along into a painful slog when Darvish was finally, mercifully, lifted for a pinch-hitter in the last of the fourth.
Results: 19 batters faced. Only five of them put the ball in play. I guess that’s good, but of the other 14, seven were walks. Darvish struck out seven, but in the end, so what? He threw 97 pitches, and only 50 were strikes. Remember what Darvish said a month or so ago?
Reporter exchange with Darvish, "Last start out you didn't walk a guy. This time 4 walks and you hit a guy. What happened?" Darvish: "I'm Yu Darvish. I walked guys (s)." @HonestSarcasm— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 16, 2019
I mean, this just isn’t good enough anymore. Darvish has now thrown 36⅔ innings this year and walked 33. That leads the major leagues by five, and Brad Keller of the Royals, who is second with 28, has thrown nine more innings than Darvish. Darvish’s walk rate is 8.1 per nine innings, which is in 2018 Tyler Chatwood territory.
The weird thing is that before 2018, Darvish had a pretty good walk rate — 3.3 per nine innings in 131 starts and 832⅔ total innings. How does this suddenly get blown up and more than double?
Anyway, let’s move on, for a moment. In the bottom of the fifth, Bryant walked with one out and up stepped Rizzo [VIDEO].
I mean, holy moly, he hit that one from his knees! It was the 200th home run as a Cub for Rizzo. He had one as a Padre, and the one he hit earlier this week was his 200th overall. Cubs gameday staff went and retrieved the ball for him. It was his 10th of the season, and:
1,924 players in #Cubs history (1876-present) have had at least one plate appearance— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 9, 2019
820 have hit at least one home run
22 have hit at least 100 home runs
9 have hit at least 200 home runs
Anthony Rizzo is one of the 9
Next on the list: Bill Nicholson, a Cub from 1939-48, with 205. Rizzo will surpass Nicholson into eighth place on the all-time Cubs list later this year, and next year (most likely): Gabby Hartnett (231) and Aramis Ramirez (239).
After that it was all Mike Montgomery, making his first appearance after an IL stint and some rehab starts. He had allowed one hit in the fifth, and just kept mowing down Marlins. He wound up throwing five innings, allowing three hits and two walks with three strikeouts, and more significantly: 44 strikes in 71 total pitches, an average of about 14 pitches per inning. Meanwhile, Darvish’s 97 pitches in four averaged more than 24 pitches per inning. Montgomery was outstanding and helped save the rest of the bullpen for the series against the Brewers.
What to do with Darvish? Honestly, I have no idea. If the lack of command and control are due to residual effects from the elbow injury he had last year, maybe an IL stint is something that would help. The Cubs have just one off day the rest of this month, so they can’t really finesse him out of the rotation for a turn or two. At this point unless he’s hurt he’s just going to have to be sent out there every fifth day and see if he can figure things out.
Fortunately, between Montgomery and the Bryzzo Souvenir Co., this game went into the “W” column.
Oh, and about Bryant and Rizzo:
Updated combined numbers for Bryant (1-for-2, HR, 2 BB) and Rizzo (2-for-4, HR) in their last 18 games (since April 19): .320/.451/.750 with 13 homers, 12 doubles, 37 RBI and more walks (25) than strikeouts (19) in 162 plate appearances.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 9, 2019
Good stuff. If you were worried about the way these guys were hitting early on, you shouldn’t have, because both are now hitting the way we knew they could. Rizzo, in particular, seems on pace for a big home run season. 10 homers in 35 games is a pace for 46. Of course, he’ll probably slow down at some point, but this might be the year that Rizzo breaks through and shatters his career high of 32, which he has accomplished three times (2014, 2016, 2017).
The Cubs could have swept this series, with a bit better play Monday, but three of four from the worst team in the league is an acceptable result. The Cubs are now 20-6 since the season-beginning road trip and have won 10 of their last 11.
The weather cleared for part of the afternoon and it was a pleasant day at the ballpark with temperatures in the mid-60s. I’m still amazed that with the dire weather forecasts earlier this week, that this entire series was played with no delays or postponements and with only a couple of light sprinkles that didn’t hold up play.
The weather for most of this weekend looks good, too, if a bit cool for this time of year. And the Cubs will have their first Wrigley look at the Brewers for 2019, with a three-game series that begins Friday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CT. Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs and Gio Gonzalez gets the call for the Brewers. TV coverage Friday will be via NBC Sports Chicago, and the game will also be on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Brewers market territories.