The Cubs began the second half on a beautiful Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field against a Pirates team that took three out of four when these teams met last week. The two starting pitchers had struggled for much of 2019, but both threw incredibly well. In the end, Chicago was able to prevail in the battle of bullpens to claim the victory.
Yu Darvish and Chris Archer dominated the first six innings of the game as the combined for a grand total of three hits and struck out a whopping 18 times. Archer finally tired in the 7th inning, allowing the home team to jump ahead. Kris Bryant led off the inning with a solo home run, Anthony Rizzo singled, and Victor Caratini walked to knock the starter out of the game.
Michael Feliz took over and Jason Heyward singled to load the bases. Robel Garcia hit a line drive to right and Rizzo just beat the throw home for a sacrifice fly. Albert Almora Jr. singled to reload the bases and pinch-hitter David Bote walked to force in the third run. A Kyle Schwarber double play prevented further damage, but the Cubs appeared to have inflicted enough.
Kyle Ryan and Steve Cishek pitched a clean 7th inning, but Pedro Strop hit big trouble in the 8th. José Osuna doubled and Bryan Reynolds walked to put two on with two outs and Strop left a 2-0 fastball over the plate that Starling Marte destroyed for a game-tying three-run bomb to left.
Chicago rallied back in the bottom of the frame against Kyle Crick, who walked Bryant and Caratini to put runners on first and second with two down. Heyward ripped a single to left and excellent base running from KB gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
Craig Kimbrel came on and went 1-2-3 in the 9th with the help of a great play from Bote at third. The batter was initially called safe, but was ruled out upon review to seal the win. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Darvish was excellent in his six innings of work to keep the Cubs in the game early. But what really got the win was the Cubs refusing falter after blowing the 3-0 lead, coming right back to take the lead and close out the win.
Heyward’s at-bat is the easy answer here. J-Hey jumped on the first fastball he saw and lashed it to left. Bryant got an unbelievable jump from second to just beat a strong throw from Reynolds in left.
Stats That Matter
- Darvish was just terrific Friday: 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 8 K, 1 BB. He was getting tons of whiffs on breaking pitches, his control was sharp, and he definitely deserved a win. Despite yet another no decision, I think he’ll take the result.
- In addition to his batting, Heyward made two incredible catches in right. He is so valuable in every aspect of the game in 2019.
- Bryant’s numbers are better than they were in his 2016 MVP season and he really hasn’t even gotten hot this year.
The Cubs got a huge effort from a struggling starter and got clutch plate appearances with runners in scoring position, so this game was a bit of a narrative buster.
Jon Lester takes on Jordan Lyles in game two of the series Saturday at 1:20pm CT. WGN provides the television coverage and 670 The Score has the radio feed.