You know things are going well when a quality start with seven strikeouts and one walk is considered terrible, but that’s how Yu Darvish appraised his effort against Cleveland Tuesday night. The big righty certainly wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen him allowing nine hits, five of which were doubles, and three runs while lacking that nastiness that really makes his myriad pitches sizzle.
“I was terrible today,” Darvish deadpanned after the game. “I didn’t have anything. Absolutely nothing. I still can’t believe I threw 7 innings today and we won.
“But, we won. That’s what we all needed. That’s why I’m happy now.”
All three runs he allowed were earned, though one of those came as the result of a scoring decision on an errant throw from Kris Bryant that was changed from E5 to bunt single. That meant Darvish was responsible for Delino DeShields, who would have been out with a good throw and Anthony Rizzo covering first instead of Jason Kipnis, and was charged with an earned run when Francisco Lindor doubled DeShields home.
The result is that Darvish now has a 2.00 ERA and may have lost his grip on the NL Cy Young, though he was unwilling to discuss that despite a certain press box wag asking him about it yet again. With his team firmly in position for a postseason berth and needing him to anchor the rotation, his focus is on more than just individual achievements.
“We are in a good spot right now,” Darvish said of the Cubs’ postseason chances. “I hope I can pitch in the playoffs and pitch better than before.”
He’s referring, of course, to his time with the Dodgers that included an ill-fated World Series performance against an Astros team that was later revealed to have been illegally stealing and sharing pitches. Darvish became a pariah in Los Angeles and the disappointment lingered through his injury-riddled 2018 campaign with the Cubs. He later called his return to LA the worst moment of his life and admitted that he had struggled to come to terms with his failure.
Between that and an elbow issue that went undiagnosed for most of 2018 before finally being cleaned up surgically, many wondered whether the former Rangers ace had lost the edge. Outside of a few contrarian a-holes, no one’s wondering that any longer as Darvish has made obvious improvements and his confidence is riding higher than ever heading down the stretch.
Now that his critics, and maybe a few members of the media, have been silenced, it’s time for Darvish to prove on baseball’s biggest stage that he’s one of the best in the game.
Update: As Len Kasper tweeted out Wednesday evening, the official scorer went back and determined that one of those runs was indeed unearned. That lowers Darvish’s ERA to 1.86 and may give Gordon Wittenmyer another opportunity to ask about the Cy Young.
Last night's official scorer went through the Top 3rd again today and determined 1 of the 2 runs charged to @faridyu was unearned. So that helps his ERA. The DeShields' play remains (correctly) ruled hit+error. But the earned run calculation changed. In case you're wondering…
— Len Kasper (@LenKasper) September 16, 2020