As we all know, individual pitcher wins don’t mean all that much in modern baseball, what with starting pitchers throwing fewer innings than ever.
Entering Wednesday’s game, though, Yu Darvish had made 27 starts for the Cubs and had never had a “W” posted next to his name in a Wrigley Field game. His one win in 2018 and two in 2019 all came on the road. And then there was this:
Since Yu Darvish joined the #Cubs for 2018, 68 pitchers have recorded a win at Wrigley Field (69 including Scott Oberg in the 2018 Wild Card game).— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 17, 2019
But not Yu Darvish.
Looks like he might change that today.
Darvish did in fact change that on a warm summer afternoon at Wrigley with six outstanding innings. He allowed just two hits, hit two batters and struck out seven and the Cubs got him his “W” (or “double Yu,” if you will) in a 5-2 victory over the Reds that took a series from that ballclub for the first time in 2019.
Darvish made quick work of the first inning and Kris Bryant put the Cubs ahead in the bottom of the frame [VIDEO].
That was KB’s 20th of the year and his fourth in his last nine games. The Cubs now have three 20-homer hitters (Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez) and Anthony Rizzo and the IL’d Willson Contreras stuck on 19.
Addison Russell made it 2-0 Cubs in the second [VIDEO].
Those were the only two hits the Cubs got off Sonny Gray, who also threw a solid game. After Russell’s homer, he retired the last 13 Cubs he faced.
But Darvish was nearly as good. He hit two batters, as noted, and allowed a single in the fifth and double in the sixth. He was removed for a pinch-hitter having thrown 83 pitches (60 strikes) and he’s now thrown 12 straight scoreless innings since the All-Star break, allowing four hits and one walk with 15 strikeouts. His outing remained scoreless in the sixth thanks to this nice play [VIDEO] by David Bote and Victor Caratini.
All of that is the Darvish the Cubs thought they were getting a year and a half ago. Absolutely better late than never. He’s giving a huge boost to the rotation. Here’s hoping for lots more just like the last two.
The Cubs tacked on a pair of runs in the seventh. Bryant and Rizzo walked to lead off the inning and after Caratini struck out, Jason Heyward came to the plate [VIDEO].
That was a nice piece of hitting and it sure seemed like Yasiel Puig didn’t run real hard to track it down. Both Bryant and Rizzo scored to make it 4-0.
Hey, look what I wrote in the game preview today!
Brandon Kintzler has not allowed a run in 23 straight outings at Wrigley Field dating to last season, the second-longest streak in ballpark history, trailing only Felix Heredia’s 24-game stretch from August 28, 2000-July 29, 2001.
Well, so much for that. Kintzler had a rare bad outing, getting hit hard even when he was getting outs and two Reds runs scored in the eighth, putting the game back to a two-run Cubs lead.
Baez and Bryant singled with one out in the eighth and that brought up Rizzo [VIDEO].
The ball was ruled an error at first, then changed to a hit, rightfully so, as Rizzo did a nice piece of hitting sending that ball to left field for an RBI single to make it 5-2.
That brought in Craig Kimbrel to a loud ovation. Kimbrel had a rough outing Tuesday evening and threw 25 pitches (only 10 strikes). This was the first time he’d gone in back-to-back games for the Cubs.
And this one looked much closer to the Kimbrel of old. He struck out Scooter Gennett, got Jesse Winker to hit a comebacker and finished it off with a 97 mile per hour K of Juan Graterol [VIDEO].
12 pitches, eight strikes for Kimbrel and now the Cubs will truly enjoy their Thursday off day. Here’s food for thought:
Imagine just after winning the 2016 World Series, that on July 17, 2019 you'd see this in a #Cubs box score:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 17, 2019
W: Darvish SV: Kimbrel
Indeed, I’m guessing no one would have thought that would happen two and a half years later. But here we are, and given today’s performances of those two pitchers, things could look really good for the rest of the season.
As noted, the Cubs have Thursday off and then begin a three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Padres Friday afternoon. Jon Lester will start for the Cubs and Eric Lauer will go for the Padres. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago (with a MLB Network telecast outside the Cubs and Padres market territories).