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Reds 3, Cubs 0: Sometimes the other guy just beats Yu

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Yu Darvish had one bad inning, and that was enough to defeat the Cubs.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Yu Darvish has been so good, so dominant this year — in fact, since the middle of last year — that it was surprising, almost shocking, how off his game he was in the first inning Wednesday evening.

After retiring Joey Votto to lead off the game (on a sharp line drive), Darvish walked the next two hitters.

That, in fact, was shocking: It was the first time Darvish had walked consecutive batters since May 31, 2019, a span of 27 starts. He then struck out Eugenio Suarez for the second out of the inning. Could he get out of this jam?

Nope. Up stepped Mike Moustakas, who entered the game 6-for-16 vs. Darvish with a home run. Make that two home runs now, as he took Darvish into the tarped-off right-field bleachers on a night when the wind was blowing in at 10 miles per hour.

After that Darvish settled down. He faced 18 batters after Moustakas’ homer, allowed just one more hit (an infield hit by Shogo Akiyama right after the homer), one walk, and struck out nine. You know, like the Darvish we’ve been accustomed to seeing this year. The third walk, though, broke another Darvish streak:

The good pitching after Moose’s homer made Darvish’s outing look decent, but “decent” isn’t what we have been accustomed to from Yu.

And it didn’t much matter anyway, because Trevor Bauer was utterly dominant in this game. He retired the 12 of the first 14 Cubs before Victor Caratini singled leading off the fifth (Kyle Schwarber had reached second base on an error in the second and Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch in the fourth). Caratini was immediately erased on a double play.

The Cubs had just two further baserunners, on singles by Jason Heyward and Ildemaro Vargas in the eighth. Besides Schwarber, Heyward was the only Cub to get past first base, and that provided brief hope that the Cubs could get back in the game. Bauer was lifted after Vargas’ hit, but reliever Lucas Sims got Ian Happ to line out on his first (and only) pitch, and Raisel Iglesias needed just 10 pitches to wrap things up in the ninth to finish off a 3-0 Reds win over the Cubs, a reverse of Tuesday’s score.

The Cubs did play some good defense in this game, and got three different umpiring calls overturned on review. Let’s have a look, as they were pretty much the only Cubs highlights of the game.

Anthony Rizzo and Darvish on a chopper by Shogo Akiyama in the fourth [VIDEO].

David Bote and Rizzo on a grounder by Moustakas in the sixth [VIDEO].

Craig Kimbrel picks off Akiyama in the eighth [VIDEO].

Kimbrel actually had a decent inning, trying to keep the game close. He struck out Suarez and Moustakas, hitting 98 miles per hour three times. The two K’s set a club record:

Akiyama then singled off him. That was a nice pickoff move by Kimbrel and an excellent swipe tag by Rizzo. Perhaps Kimbrel might be ready for higher-leverage situations again.

So this game was a tip your cap to the other guy affair. Bauer is a really good pitcher and he had an outstanding outing — and some comments about the Cubs after the game:

Can’t argue with that, really.

Bauer and Darvish had exchanged pleasantries on Twitter before the game. First, Bauer said some nice things about Darvish:

Yu replied and Bauer was thrilled:

FWIW, Darvish’s YouTube channel has 512,000 subscribers. Also, he finished the game with a 1.77 ERA, just behind Bauer’s 1.74 and Jacob deGrom’s 1.69 for tops in the NL. It’s a close race among the three for the Cy Young Award:

Anyway, Bauer was the “best man” Wednesday night and the winner. Darvish recovered after the first inning and threw nasty pitches like this, striking out Suarez in the third on a cutter:

Hey, look at it this way. This loss wasn’t as brutal as the one the Marlins suffered Wednesday night. Miami lost by 20 to the Braves.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals had Wednesday off — their last off day of 2020. They will now play 23 games in 17 days (or 25 in 18 if they have to play their makeup DH vs. the Tigers the day after the season ends). They’ll play two against Detroit today, with the Cubs leading the division by 2½ games.

The Cubs go for the series win Thursday evening at Wrigley Field. Adbert Alzolay will be recalled from the South Bend alternate site to start for the Cubs and Sonny Gray will go for the Reds. Game time is again 7:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.