The Cubs took the opener here against the Pirates, and there was only a LITTLE bit of heartburn in the final few innings. It’s a start.
Yu Darvish looked fantastic tonight, right in line with what he was showing us in the second half last year. The stuff was as good as his first outing, but this time around he was commanding it much better. He was so on point that he twice put two-seamers – the fastball he has seemed to have the toughest time commanding – right on the black for strikeouts at 98 mph.
Jason Heyward came through big-time to help the Cubs build out a 4-0 with an 0-2, two-out, two-run single:
And a two-run single from Anthony Rizzo in the 8th gave the Cubs their six runs. Plenty more opportunities to add even more runs, but a little less coming through with runners on base and under two outs in this one. It happens. Just don’t make a habit of it.
Darvish wound up going six scoreless, which is excellent and you’ll take it. But of course that meant the Cubs had to get three innings from the bullpen …
Kyle Ryan was solid in his inning of work – velocity was still down from last year, but up from his first two outings – but gave up a double to open his second frame. He was pulled, and Rowan Wick allowed a couple weak singles to yield a run and bring the tying run to the plate in the 8th. Never fun.
Also not fun: watching Craig Kimbrel these days. It’s really sad, but it’s the reality. The other night, he couldn’t throw strikes or get swings at his curveball. Tonight, he came in pumping strikes with the fastball, but right at the belt – the first batter he faced, Josh Bell, crushed one. The second batter he faced, Colin Moran, crushed one. The next three guys absolutely smoked the ball, but thankfully into outs. Glad the Cubs won, and glad he finished the inning, but if you were looking to be comforted tonight about Kimbrel, you were not.
Back to the good stuff, though. Cubs win – Darvish was stellar, and the bats kept on doing their thing.