Darvish returns to dominant form as Cubs topple Pirates
Yu Darvish admitted he wasn’t as sharp as he wanted to be his first time out, but he righted the ship with a gem in the series opener against the Pirates.
After allowing 3 runs in 4 innings against the Brewers last Saturday, the veteran right-hander tossed 6 shutout innings Friday night.
Darvish struck out 7, allowing only a walk and a pair of singles as he led the Cubs to a 6-3 victory at Wrigley Field.
The Pirates came into the game last in Major League Baseball in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and Darvish made that hold up by generating 18 swings-and-misses. He also dialed it up to 98 mph at times as he carved through the Pirates order:
98 & 🎨@faridyu with the quality start! pic.twitter.com/X9YnzP9G8R— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) August 1, 2020
“Oh, he was great tonight,” David Ross said. “Had it all working, just spinning the breaking ball really well in the zone, out of the zone. Looked like the splitty showed up tonight and a couple times there late, blowing guys’ doors off [with the fastball]. Really good performance out of him. Really didn’t labor at all throughout the night.”
He now has 130 strikeouts against only 8 walks since last season’s All-Star Break.
Darvish said he feels the same right now as he did in the second half of last season, but still would like to improve his mechanics and command, particularly with his cutter.
The Cubs continued their balanced attack on offense, scoring runs via power, small ball and wearing the opposing pitchers out.
They plated a run in the 3rd inning when Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams threw Javy Báez’s bunt base hit into right field.
In the 4th, hometown kid Jason Kipnis hit his first homer as a Cub — a 101.4 mph blast just above the nuveen sign in right field. He already had the ball in a case by the time he met with the media after the game.
“All of this, I take with a grain of salt,” Kipnis said. “All of this is cup half full. I don’t worry that I wish it was in front of full stadiums or I wish that my family and my friends were at the game. I take it for what it is and I enjoy it for what it is. I had a good time. I’ll remember that always. Got the ball, too. That’s coming with me.”
Jason Heyward added a 2-out, 2-run single on an 0-2 count in the 5th inning to give Darvish and the Cubs pitching staff more of a cushion.
After the Pirates tacked on a run in the top of the 8th, the Cubs put the game out of reach in the home half of the inning when Anthony Rizzo laced a 2-run single to left-center.
In total, the Cubs racked up 11 hits and 7 walks while forcing the Pirates to throw 183 pitches in just 8 innings.
The win pushed the Cubs’ record to 5-2 on the season. Game 2 of the series with the Pirates kicks off Saturday night with coverage beginning at 6 p.m. on Marquee Sports Network.