The Cubs looked lifeless the last two games, and that’s not just a fan’s perspective. Theo Epstein admitted Thursday morning that his team’s effort of late has been disappointing and embarrassing. Chicago was in desperate need of a quality pitching performance after losses, and Yu Darvish was there to deliver.
In a manner befitting his title as World’s Greatest Leadoff Hitter, Anthony Rizzo walked to open the game against Dinelson Lamet. Kyle Schwarber singled to move Rizzo to third and Kris Bryant hit a sacrifice fly to put the Cubs up 1-0.
Schwarber walked and Bryant singled in the 4th inning, then they pulled off a double steal with two outs. Ian Happ dumped a bloop single into right to bring home both runners and give the Cubs some breathing room.
Darvish pilled up the strikeouts and allowing only a single to the opposing pitcher through four innings. Greg Garcia tripled to start the 6th inning, but the right-hander was unfazed, striking out the next three batters to give him 14 on the afternoon.
Ben Zobrist came on as a pinch hitter and grounded out to give Chicago their fourth run. Kyle Ryan had clean innings in the 7th and 8th, then Rowan Wick made things far too interesting in the 9th before closing out the win. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Simply put, Yu Darvish was terrific. He kept San Diego at bay the whole game and the Cubs’ ability to get runners in from third three times was also a huge factor.
Bryant’s sacrifice fly was a big moment after the lack of execution Wednesday. Seems like it’s not a big deal, but turns out missing those chances can really be painful in the long run.
Stats That Matter
- Darvish has been wowing with his new knuckle curve: 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 14 K, and 2 BB. This was his first multi-walk game since June.
- Heyward had two more hits and another warning track fly out. Seems like not leading off really agrees with him.
- Happ was a big contributor, which is good to see after his recent offensive struggles.
This game keeps the Cubs tied for the final Wild Card spot and a 3-5 road trip feels a little better than a 2-6 one. Chicago now must play well at Wrigley Field if they want to play in October.
The Cubs start their final homestand of the season against the Pirates Friday at 3:05pm CT. Jon Lester battles fellow lefty Steven Brault in a game televised on NBC Sports Chicago and MLB Network (out of market) with radio on 670 The Score.