After dropping the first game of Saturday’s double-header, the Cubs looked to win the four-game series with the Reds on Sunday. After a shaky start, Yu Darvish and the rest of his teammates settled down for a winning effort, his first Cubs win. The key to Chicago’s win was a power surge in the cozy dimensions of the Great American Ball Park.
A walk, a single, and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for Cincinnati in the bottom of the 1st. Darvish got out of it only allowing one run, but it took him a whopping 39 pitches to do it. The Cubs struck back quickly in the top of the 2nd inning to give Darvish all the support he’d need. Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez hit back-to-back homers, the first time Chicago has done that all season, to make it 3-1.
Ben Zobrist added a solo shot in the top of the 5th to make it 4-1 and a Joey Votto throwing error led to a pair of insurance runs in the 7th. Darvish really came on after his rough start, throwing six strong innings in total. Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., and Brandon Morrow pitched scoreless innings to seal the game. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Darvish didn’t fall apart when things started badly for him Sunday. He limited early damage and kept the Cubs in the game. The Chicago hitters made Tyler Mahle pay for the mistakes he made with home runs.
With Ian Happ on first base and none out in the 2nd, Schwarber hit a line-drive homer to right off of Mahle. Javy followed with a majestic homer to the second deck in left. The two dingers put the Cubs ahead 3-1.
Stats That Matter
- Darvish didn’t allow a hit after the opening inning: 6 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 7 K, 3 BB, and 2 HBP. He needed only 54 pitches to go the last five innings of his start and was more aggressive with his fastball, which led to greater efficiency.
- Baez had two singles along with his bomb and he looked much better Sunday after his recent slump. Oh, and he also turned another incredible double play in the 5th inning.
- Schwarber bunted against the shift for a single in addition to his laser bomb, then took a very questionable strike three on a high pitch later in the game and got ejected. Umpire John Tumpane seemed to have a very quick hook on the toss.
- Happ walked three more times in the final game of the series. He has walked seven times the past week, not even counting five intentional walks, and his on base percentage is up to .361 on the season.
The Cubs won three of four against the Reds, outscoring Cincinnati by 17 runs in the series.
The Cubs start a two-game series with Cleveland on Tuesday night. Tyler Chatwood takes on Cubs fan favorite Trevor Bauer at 6:05pm CT, with ESPN and WGN on the broadcast.