Chicago Cubs: Bullpen, bats shine in extra-inning win over Marlins

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Yu Darvish
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Yu Darvish /

After losing a 17-inning marathon game Friday night, the Chicago Cubs bounced back and won the third of a four-game series in Miami by a score of 10-6.

Yu Darvish made his highly-anticipated debut in a Chicago Cubs uniform Saturday night, but it didn’t go as smoothly as anyone had hoped. The right-hander was only able to make through 4 1/3 innings pitched. He gave up five earned runs on five hits, walking two and striking out four.

Darvish hit his first batter of the season, pegging Marlins leadoff man Lewis Brinson. Things didn’t get any better after that, either. The next batter, left fielder Derek Dietrich, took Darvish deep with an absolute blast to right field.

Don’t hit the panic button, though, folks. It was a rough first start for the star pitcher, but there were some positives sprinkled in with an otherwise disappointing outing. A lot of the Marlins’ hits were pretty cheap. There were plenty of infield singles and bloopers that ended up being base knocks. You can’t really be discouraged by that kind of contact. It happens.

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Three years removed from Tommy John surgery, Darvish’s stuff actually looked good. The velocity was fine. In fact, he topped out at 97 miles per hour on the night. His pitches seemed to have plenty of movement as well. He just struggled a bit with his command tonight. It’s early, so no need to worry. He’ll get settled in soon enough.

Hitters pick things up

The Kyle Schwarber redemption tour is off to a great start. After a letdown season in 2017, Schwarber hit his second home run of the year. It was a mammoth two-run shot to right field, way up into the upper deck. He hit a 400-foot bomb to center on Opening Day.

Ben Zobrist is another Cubs player seeking a rebound for a lackluster 2017 season. He added a late base hit, he walked twice and hit one to the warning track in center field. He had a three-hit night on Friday. If he can bounce back offensively, he’ll be a huge boost for the Cubs.

Kris Bryant continues to do Kris Bryant things. Thus far he’s hit two singles, two doubles and a home run, with one of those doubles coming on Saturday night. He’s a perennial MVP candidate for a reason.

Jason Heyward had a nice night at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two singles and a sacrifice fly. It’s early, but he appears to be seeing the ball well so far. At this point, the Cubs have accepted that any offense they get from Heyward is just a bonus on top of his alreadystellar defense. But if he can actually be a contributor at the plate this year, the Cubs will just be that much better.

Javier Baez had been off to a rough start to the season, but he was the catalyst in the Cubs’ extra innings victory, roping a double into left field to start off the 10th inning. After an Addison Russell walk, Ben Zobrist singled, scoring Baez to give the Cubs the game-winning run.

Bullpen continues to shine

Undoubtedly the weakest area for the Cubs the past few years, their bullpen is off to a phenomenal start. They’ve pitched 22 innings, giving up just two runs (0.82 ERA). In those frames, hurlers notched 17 strikeouts and carry a 1.000 WHIP.

Eddie Butler was a workhorse Friday night, giving the Cubs seven innings of relief while giving up just one run.

Perhaps most encouraging, Justin Wilson has pitched 2 2/3 clean innings of baseball. And while he his command hasn’t looked perfect, it’s good to see him start the first series unscathed.

Next: Justin Wilson could be a huge difference-maker

The Cubs now lead the series two games to one. They’ll look to win it Sunday afternoon when Jose Quintana squares off against Dillon Peters at 12:10 p.m. CT.