today at 5:49 pm
Nothing was easy this past couple of weeks. The Cubs finally came out ahead in the home run happy series. Yu Darvish was magnificent figuring out how to keep the White Sox in the ballpark except for a mistake to Jose Abreu. Actually, retiring Jose Abreu two times felt like a magic trick in it of itself. It was a nail biter until the end but a two run blast was enough with the combined pitching effort of Yu Darvish, Craig Kimbrel and Jeremy Jeffress. The Cubs ended a rough homestand on a high note.
Yu Darvish worked a quick first inning with the help of a double play ball, but Jose Abreu broke the scoreless deadlock hitting his fourth home run in his fourth consecutive at bat through two games. Darvish locked back in to prevent the White Sox from even putting a runner in scoring position again until the fifth inning. Yu finished the afternoon with ten punchouts in seven innings.
Dylan Cease helped to rub in the Jose Quintana trade by looking even better than Darvish in the first few innings. Ian Happ drew a walk to lead off the game but then retired the next nine batters he faced to head into the fourth inning with a 1-0 lead.
Anthony Rizzo ended that streak with a leadoff single in the fourth inning. Kyle Schwarber ripped a one out double to put the tying run on third base. Willson Contreras than bounced the ball right to third baseman Yoan Moncada who double-clutched before firing home on Rizzo trying to score. The play initially was ruled safe, but was later overturned on replay. Willson Contreras then took off on a pitch that bounced in the dirt and was easily nabbed to end the inning.
Darvish ran into a little trouble in the top of the fifth inning. James McCann led off with a single and Danny Mendick singled with one out. A Tim Anderson ground out and Yoan Moncada strikeout ended the threat. Darvish pitched two strong more innings to finish off his day.
The Cubs threatened Cease again in the fifth inning. Jason Heyward walked and a Moncada error allowed Caratini and Heyward to reach scoring position with no outs. Nico Hoerner drew a walk to load the bases with no outs, but then the Cubs Cubbed the inning. Jason Kipnis struck out swinging and Ian Happ scorched a groundball right to Tim Anderson for an inning ending double play.
It felt like it was going to be another one of those games, but Javier Baez doubled in the sixth inning with one out. Kyle Schwarber then hit a bomb to dead center to flip the score to a 2-1 Cubs advantage. The Cubs would only put one more baserunner in the final innings of the game, but it looked to be enough with the way Darvish was throwing.
Craig Kimbrel was given the eighth inning as the formula seems to be these days. It looked like another good Kimbrel outing with two K’s of Anderson and Moncada swinging. But Kimbrel walked Yasmani Grandal and then Jose Abreu. That would be it for Kimbrel, and Jeremy Jeffress was summoned for the four out save opportunity.
Jeffress retired Eloy Jimenez on a flyout to center to end the inning. Jeffress pulled a Kimbrel in the top of the ninth by retiring Luis Robert and James McCann for two quick outs. Nomar Maraza hit a swinging bunt to keep the inning alive. Danny Mendick and Tim Anderson both walked to load the bases but Moncada hit a groundball to Baez to end the homestand.
This is what it felt like after that fourth inning. And what it felt like in the fifth inning. And frankly it still kind of feels like that even after this one is in the win column of the standings.