It was billed as the Chicago Cubs’ Yu Darvish against the Philadelphia Phillies’ Jake Arrieta. Neither factored into the decision, but the Phillies won it in 10 innings.
When you consider a game to be a ‘pitcher’s duel’ with two pitchers who have ERAs over 4.00, you shouldn’t expect much. But for five an a half innings, that’s exactly what the fans got. The Chicago Cubs’ Yu Darvish was outdueling the former Cub and Philadelphia Phillies starter, Jake Arrieta. It was that last half inning that proved to be Darvish’s undoing.
The Cubs had gotten on the board first in the third after Anthony Rizzo singled past a drawn-in infield to score Kyle Schwarber who tripled to open the inning. When all was said and done, it would be the only blemish on Arrieta line in his return to Wrigley Field. He was also greeted with a standing ovation on his first at-bat. Some players leave a team, and the fans ‘turn their back’ on them. That isn’t the case of Cubs fans and Arrieta. He was well-liked and respected in his time here.
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For Darvish, he was the better pitcher of the two for most of the game. In his last start, Darvish struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter. This game, he walked three. The first in was in the fourth inning, which didn’t hurt him. It was the two in the sixth inning that came back to bite him.
After a J.T. Realmuto single that tied the game, Darvish allowed a triple to Cesar Hernandez that got past right fielder Jason Heyward. As the ball bounced off the right field wall, it caught the top of the padding and shot over Heyward’s glove, who was in a good position to field it. Chances are the second run would have scored, regardless.
It would be walks that would cause an issue for Seranthony Dominguez in the bottom of the eight, as well. He issued a free pass to Victor Caratini and Heyward to start the inning. Albert Almora Jr. advanced them over with a sacrifice bunt. That would bring up Daniel Descalso, who was batting just .097 since May 1. Coming through in this spot could be huge for him, and he did.
Descalso split the left and center fielder and neither committed to the catch. The tying runs scored as Descalso went for a triple. The ball bounced off his foot on the relay throw and bounced into the stands, allowing him to cross the plate and take the lead. All was good until you realized one thing. Who was going to close this one out?
The previous night, Steve Cishek went 2 1/3 innings to get his fourth save of the season. The circle of trust to close out games is small right now as Pedro Strop is still out, Carl Edwards Jr. hasn’t earned the trust back, and Cishek was down after his previous night.
So Joe Maddon chose to go to Brad Brach, who does have 33 career saves. He did not get 34. Brach allowed a single to Jean Segura that scored Maikel Franco. Segura did the Cubs a favor by trying to go for two and was thrown out by Heyward. The go-ahead run was already on third in Andrew McCutchen.
In the 10th, Kyle Ryan was called on to extend the game. After getting Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins out, he couldn’t do the same with Realmuto. He took a four-seam fastball and deposited in the seats in left-center for the go-ahead, and eventual winning run.
For Cubs’ fans, it was like old times to see Arrieta on the Wrigley mound–even if most weren’t pulling for him on this night. His time in Chicago wasn’t long, but I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say he was a legend in that short time. He won a Cy Young, pitched two no-hitters, and helped bring a World Series title to the Cubs. Sounds pretty legendary to me.
For Darvish, his goal was to pitch well at Wrigley and win a game at home against Arrieta. While his last half inning didn’t go well, he did indeed pitch well. He kept the pitch count in check by cutting back on the walks again. And remember, the Phillies and Cubs are No. 3 and No. 4 in bases on balls. They take their walks, which is how both helped fuel their scoring opportunities.