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White Sox 5, Cubs 3: Yu have got to be joking

The Japanese righthander’s first outing since March was not good.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Yu Darvish threw four innings Monday night, allowing just three hits and a walk, with three strikeouts. That’s good, right?

Oh. You can see that I’ve conveniently left out what happened with the first five batters Darvish faced before he did what I’ve described in the paragraph above.

Double. Single. Single. Walk. Grand slam. All of the White Sox’ first five batters scored in just 22 Darvish pitches, and that early 5-0 lead held up in a 5-3 White Sox win over the Cubs.

If you care about the result of this game or the fact that the Sox won both exhibition games played in Chicago over the last two days, I don’t know what to tell you. The results have as much meaning as any spring-training game, which is to say: None.

Darvish did actually look pretty good after those first five hitters. Overall he threw 48 strikes in 67 pitches before David Ross removed him after a leadoff infield single by Tim Anderson in the fifth. 29 of those pitches were thrown in the first inning, so he got through four-plus after that on just 38 pitches. So what happened with those first five hitters?

Oh. You’ll need a translation for that, won’t you. Twitter’s translation reads:

I threw it to other team opponents after a long absence! After the first hit, I felt like I was feeling more focused and focused like the season. The only cuts that I’m most good at are the rest. Next is the opening, so make sure to adjust it.

Basically: “I didn’t feel quite right until after the first hit, and I need to make some adjustments before Opening Day.” I feel confident Darvish will do that. (If there are any native Japanese speakers reading this, feel free to leave a more accurate translation in the comments.)

Meanwhile, Dallas Keuchel and Evan Marshall held the Cubs to one hit, a second-inning single by Kyle Schwarber, through six innings. Cubs bats were as quiet as the ballpark. (I’m going to try to avoid using that sort of wording during the season, so you’ll please forgive me for doing it just this once.)

The Cubs rallied in the seventh. Kris Bryant led off with a single, and Sox shortstop Danny Mendick then booted grounders by David Bote and Javier Baez. Hernan Perez, who had run for Bryant, scored to break the shutout.

Schwarber was up next [VIDEO].

Kyle’s sharp single to left scored Bote to make it 5-2, with Baez taking third. Could this comeback come all the way back?

Well, no. Steven Souza Jr. hit into a double play, scoring Baez, but that’s all the Cubs could get in that inning.

We got a news flash in the eighth when Craig Kimbrel entered to pitch. No beard! [VIDEO]

I almost didn’t recognize him at first. Many men look different without their facial hair, but Kimbrel’s look is completely different. His inning of work was fine; he allowed a leadoff walk to Andrew Romine, but Josh Phegley threw him out trying to steal. Prior to that Kimbrel struck out Andrew Vaughn (as shown above). He allowed a single and got the third out on a fly ball, nine strikes in 14 pitches.

The Cubs did attempt one last rally in the ninth which included a single by Daniel Descalso — yes, really, I saw it and it’s in the boxscore. But with the tying runs on base, Souza faced his former Rays teammate Alex Colome, and Colome got him to fly to right to end it.

Besides Kimbrel, James Norwood, Ryan Tepera and Jeremy Jeffress all threw scoreless innings, so that’s a good thing.

As is the case for most games of this nature, you can’t read too much into the result. The games aren’t played like regular-season games, the pitching staff isn’t used the same way and multiple lineup changes are made. Or, as in the case of the Phillies/Yankees game Monday night:

Hey, it got people talking about baseball. So that’s good... right?

The Cubs are off today. Wednesday, they will host the Twins at Wrigley Field at 6:05 p.m. CT. Ross has announced that Jon Lester and Alec Mills will piggyback this game, but we are told this is for that game only:

Ross has tempered persistent suggestions that Mills will piggyback Lester once the season starts. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy added it’s wise to use multiple relievers for two innings and not target one pitcher to piggyback.

“That’s why MLB did what they did in setting the rosters the way they did, understanding starters probably weren’t going to be as stretched out as they will be in two weeks,” Hottovy said. “And our ability to have some relievers to control multiple innings will definitely help bridge a gap between the starters and the back-end guys.”

That article says Anthony Rizzo, who has been working out with no issues the last couple of days, hopes to play Wednesday and be ready for Friday’s season opener. The Twins have not yet announced a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game.

Wednesday’s game will be televised by Marquee Sports Network (and also the Twins channel Fox Sports North). Hopefully, a deal will be in place by then so Comcast subscribers (this writer included) can watch the game.