Darvish quiets Sox's lineup, earns 2-1 win for Chicago Cubs
The Cubs lost the home run battle to the White Sox 12-1 this weekend.
But they made their lone longball count, thanks to another brilliant pitching performance from Yu Darvish. Kyle Schwarber belted a 2-run homer in the sixth and Darvish kept the Sox's powerful lineup quiet in a 2-1 victory Sunday at Wrigley Field. The White Sox saw a seven-game winning streak come to an end.
This game continued the recent Darvish storyline. Since slowing down his pace on the mound midway through last season, he has been making the most of his wide variety of pitches. The games last a little longer, but the results have been consistent.
"Use the breaking ball, mix it in with the cutter, slider, knuckle curveball in the right time, especially to righties," Darvish said when asked for his game plan. "I was not thinking about anything, just following the scouting report. That was the only focus today."
Echoes of the White Sox's 11 home runs in the first two games of the series probably were still audible at Wrigley. Darvish gave up a homer to lead off the second inning when Jose Abreu knocked one out for a fourth consecutive at-bat. Abreu hit 6 home runs in the series.
"Last two games we lost, but I just focus on next pitch, next pitch. I don't care about yesterday," Darvish said. "Jose Abreu hit the homers, but next pitch I didn't care about he hits homers. I'm just focusing every pitch."
When asked what it would mean to be in the Cy Young conversation, Darvish stayed in character.
"I don't want to think about that. I don't care," he said. "Just focusing next pitch."
Darvish struck out 10, walked one, won his fifth straight start and lowered his ERA to 1.70. He certainly will be one of the Cy Young favorites if this continues.
"The teams that are going to have success, you need those guys that you feel like it's 'win day,' " Cubs manager David Ross said. "You have a starter running out there that you've got a really good chance to win. We've got a couple of those guys, and Yu has been at the top of that list lately.
"Every time out, it's a lengthy outing. It's executed, doesn't matter the lineup, he pitches his game. Electric stuff, the secondary stuff is just so good and the way he commands it is fun to watch. I tell him that all the time."
The Cubs still needed two innings from the bullpen, and that was an adventure. Ross used Craig Kimbrel to face the top of the White Sox order in the eighth. Kimbrel struck out Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada to start the inning but walked Yasmani Grandal on four pitches and missed on a 3-2 pitch to Abreu.
So Ross turned to Jeremy Jeffress, who coaxed a fly to center from Eloy Jimenez to end the inning. Jeffress returned in the ninth and got two quick outs. But then Nomar Mazara reached on a nubber, and Jeffress walked both Danny Mendick and Anderson to load the bases.
The Cubs' sense of dread grew even more when third baseman David Bote couldn't corral a foul pop-up near the Cubs' dugout. But Jeffress finally retired Moncada on a grounder to end the game.
The Cubs salvaged a win in the series, despite being heavily outslugged, and finished a long homestand with a 5-7 record.
"I think it's just nice in general when you're not playing your best baseball to come away with some wins," Ross said.
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