The Cubs downed the Cardinals 4-1 in the opener of their five-game Labor Day weekend set at Wrigley Field behind the dominant right arm of Yu Darvish and the blistering bat of Willson Contreras.
Darvish has been the best pitcher in the National League so far this season and tonight was no different. Methodically deconstructing Cardinals hitters with his dizzying repertoire, Darvish went seven strong innings with his only mistake coming on a wind-aided Matt Carpenter bomb that broke up a perfect game in the 6th inning.
When Darvish wasn’t on the hill, his teammates were busy working over Cards ace Jack Flaherty for the second time in the past couple weeks. They grinding their way through at-bats and saw a total of 43 pitches in the 1st inning, jumping ahead on a Contreras single to plate Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. That would be all the offense they needed, but they weren’t quite done.
Contreras tacked on another run in the 3rd when he shot a single the other way to score Javy Báez. The catcher, serving as DH in this one, later took a hanging breaking ball from Jake Woodford out to left-center to make it 4-1 Cubs.
After Darvish left, Rowan Wick and Jeremy Jeffress kept the game right where it belonged and shut things down in the late innings. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Contreras and Darvish were a two-headed monster against the Cards, winning the game double-handedly.
Contreras fisted Flaherty’s 37th pitch on a 3-2 count into shallow right center to drive in the only two runs Darvish would need.
Stats That Matter
- Darvish was masterful again: 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 11 K, 0 BB, W. He is 7-1 on the year with a Gibson-esque 1.44 ERA.
- Contreras went 3-for-4 with all 4 RBI and raised his average to from .217 to .242 in the game.
- Cameron Maybin was 2-for-4 filling in for Ian Happ in center.
- Darvish has been incredible since the All-Star break last year: 21 starts, 11-5, .199 BAA, 2.26 ERA, 181 K, 15 BB in 131.2 IP.
Darvish is the frontrunner for the NL Cy Young and the Cubs are a couple days away from burying the Cardinals in the Central. Sweep the doubleheader and this could get really fun.
Saturday’s twin bill sees Adbert Alzolay on the mound facing Adam Wainwright at 4:15pm CT with a bullpen game for the Cubs following 45 minutes after the completion of the first. Both Marquee and MLB Network will carry the initial broadcast or you can listen on 670 The Score.