Hey, what a game to be televised, eh?
Not only did we get to see the Cubs beat the White Sox 6-3, but we also finally got an extended look at Yu Darvish in a Cubs uniform. Also: Willson Contreras ripped his third home run of the year … and was later robbed of a homer/extra bases in right, Darvish laced an opposite field single, Mike Freeman went deep, Albert Almora made an excellent diving catch in center, and Ian Happ salvaged his two-strikeout day with another extra-base hit.
- Although I’ve seen Darvish pitch a number of times when he was with the Rangers, and, more recently, the Dodgers, today was really the first good, long look at him in a Cubs uniform and boy did I like what I saw – especially as he continued to mess with his delivery to throw the batters’ timing off. Check it out:
That'll work. pic.twitter.com/miKIjmul3b
— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) March 16, 2018
- [Brett: Darvish was doing that constantly today. I don’t know if it’ll be a new regular thing for him or if he’s just testing it out, but I went back to look at past starts just to make sure my brain wasn’t messing with me, and this was not something he was doing late last year.]
- I agree:
This slider Darvish threw to Anderson wasn't very fair pic.twitter.com/SZGchjz9lb
— Ozzie (@OzzieStern) March 16, 2018
- Darvish’s final line for the day was pretty good (5.0 IP, 3H, 1ER, 1BB, 4Ks), but he did run into a little trouble in the fifth inning, when Wellington Castillo led off with a double, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch. Darvish uncorked another wild pitch a batter later, but eventually got out of the inning having given up just the single run. In case you’re wondering, neither wild pitch seemed, to me, to be Willson Contreras’ fault for failing to block.
- And as for that hit he recored, it was a legitimately well-struck liner the opposite way:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 16, 2018
- Darvish doesn’t figure to add much with the bat over the life of his contract – and that’s not what the Cubs are paying him to do – but if he takes a few 0-2 pitches the other way, I’ll be one happy camper.
- We already took a closer look at Contreras’ and Freeman’s homers (Contreras’ blast was especially impressive), but we didn’t get a chance to see that robbery yet, so take a look and tip your cap (just like Contreras did):
- The Sox weren’t the only ones flashing leather, though. Earlier in the game, Albert Almora pulled off a vintage diving/sliding grab in center field, and he looks ready for the season:
— Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) March 16, 2018
- And although he struck out three times today, Ian Happ made sure not to go home empty-handed. Check out his perfectly placed double down the right field line:
- And to be fair, the third strikeout included some weird timing, as the pitcher threw two second base three times in a row and added a fake throw before that, before finally delivering a pitch. That’s not an excuse, but it definitely forced Happ out of his rhythm.
- After Darvish came out, Brandon Morrow took over in the bottom of the sixth inning and promptly struck out Yoan Moncada swinging, before giving up a solo shot to Avisail Garcia. After that, though, Morrow got Jose Abreu to line out and Matt Davidson to ground out to end the inning.
- Justin Hancock, one of the remaining contenders for a bullpen spot, pitched the final 1.1 innings of this one, allowing nothing and striking out three. He was only just converted to a reliever last year when the Cubs traded Matt Szczur to San Diego for him, so it’s not as if Hancock is a nothing arm.
- Ryan Court won’t make the Cubs without a rash of injuries, but, like Freeman, the utility man is putting together a heck of a spring. He added two more hits today, including a double, to raise his spring OPS to 1.231.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.