Darvish gets comfortable vs. weak-hitting Pirates

  • Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish, of Japan, plays with a ball before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Chicago, Friday, July 31, 2020.

    Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish, of Japan, plays with a ball before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Chicago, Friday, July 31, 2020.

Updated 7/31/2020 11:13 PM

This isn't a great time for medical analogies. But when things were more normal, you could have said the weak-hitting Pittsburgh Pirates were just what the doctor ordered for both Yu Darvish and the Cubs' bullpen.

Darvish threw 6 scoreless innings and the bullpen did well enough to give the Cubs a 6-3 victory Friday night at Wrigley Field. The Pirates came into the game hitting .171 as a team, worst in the majors.


While Darvish coasted, still trying to find his way back is reliever Craig Kimbrel, who gave up back-to-back home runs to start the ninth.

The Cubs' offense included a solo home run by Jason Kipnis, his first as a Cub. Jason Heyward belted a 2-run single in the fifth and Anthony Rizzo added a 2-run single in the eighth.

Everything has been going well for the Cubs so far in the shortened season. They're off to a good start and have not had any positive tests for the coronavirus among players.

One coach who has been at home due to a positive test, quality control coach Mike Napoli, was back on the field Friday.

But outside of the Friendly Confines, there was continued speculation about whether baseball will finish the season. COVID-19 concerns hit a little closer to home, at least as far as the NL Central, when two pitchers from the St. Louis Cardinals tested positive for the coronavirus. The Cardinals-Brewers game in Milwaukee on Friday was postponed.

That's a far cry from what happened with the Miami Marlins, who had more than half the team test positive. The Marlins won't play again until at least Monday.

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Before the game, Rizzo was asked if the current state of MLB is the disaster scenario.

"A nightmare scenario is -- I'll just reference us -- (pitching coach) Tommy Hottovy getting it and not making it through it," Rizzo said. "That's the nightmare scenario."

Hottovy was sick with COVID-19 for about a month during the hiatus. He made a full recovery and was with the team when summer training began July 3.

"As far as my understanding is, the guys on the Marlins are doing pretty well," Rizzo said. "This is a virus that has killed a lot of people. As long as guys, they're getting it with not a lot of symptoms, is I guess a positive. As far as whole teams getting it, that's the scary part.

"I know at some point, the league and the players were ready for a team to come down with it and it spread like a wildfire, because that's what this does, obviously. That's why our whole country is in shambles because of it."

While Rizzo said he thinks MLB and the players union have done the best they can under the circumstances, there's also a growing feeling that not all players are taking the proper precautions, particularly the Marlins.


Cubs outfielder Steven Souza Jr. sent out a strongly worded tweet before Friday's game, which read, "Every player in this league better take a hard look at what you're doing off the field, because what you do affects more than just you and your team. Your decisions off the field will put all our seasons in jeopardy."

ESPN reported that Commissioner Rob Manfred warned players union boss Tony Clark that if the sport doesn't do a better job of managing the coronavirus, the league could shut down.

Asked about that report, Cubs manager David Ross said, "I don't know that I have an objection to pinning things on players, I have an objection to pinning things on my players who haven't done anything. That's where I'm at with it."

Rizzo reminded the Cubs not to be too self-congratulatory by the team-wide good health.

"We can't sit here and say, 'Oh, look at us, we're doing so great,' " Rizzo said. "Because tomorrow we could have someone walking around asymptomatic and spread it to 10 guys. We don't know where this thing hides all the time, the virus."

Cubs add ex-closer: The Cubs signed former Cleveland reliever Cody Allen on Friday. He will head to South Bend and try to find his old form. Allen, 31, had a five-year run as the Indians' closer. In the 2016 World Series against the Cubs, he gave up no runs, 3 hits and struck out 12 in 6 innings pitched.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls


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