CHICAGO – His first start of 2020 wasn’t exactly a bad one, it just wasn’t what so many had hoped after a strong finish to 2019.
Yu Darvish got only through four innings last Saturday against Milwaukee, allowing three runs and six hits in the Cubs’ first loss of the season to the Brewers. After slow starts defined his first two years with the franchise, many hoped a second time around would bring back the pitcher from the second half of last year.
While he did have to wait an extra day, it was indeed the case for Darvish.
After his start in Cincinnati got rained out, Darvish took the mound and was superb in his second outing, going six shutout innings. He allowed just two hits, struck out seven compared to just one walk, which has plenty to help the Cubs get a 6-3 win over the Pirates Friday night at Wrigley Field.
It was reminiscent of the control that Darvish had late last year, when he had a 2.93 ERA in September and in the final two months of the year struck out 88 batters compared to just five walks. Pittsburgh saw 86 pitches from him on Friday night, unable to get anything going off him.
The Cubs’ offense did they part to spot him a lead in the middle innings. Jason Kipnis hit his first homer of 2020 in the fourth inning to make it 2-0 and Jason Heyward provided the winning runs with a bases loaded single in the fifth inning.
While Darvish found his rhythm, Craig Kimbrel didn’t. Inheriting a five-run lead in the ninth, the closer allowed homers to Josh Bell and Colin Moran to start it off but got the next three batters to seal the game.
It was one started by a Cubs pitcher that lived up to his billing earlier in the evening.