Three takeaways for the Chicago Cubs after a rough weekend series

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Doing what needed to be done

Saturday wasn’t exactly what I’d call optimal pitching conditions. As I sat in the left field bleachers, the wind howled and I could hear the National League flags atop the center field scoreboard snapping with every gust.

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So it came as little surprise the two teams combined for 14 runs – the majority of which came via the half-dozen homers the clubs blasted on the afternoon. But that’s not what stood out to me. Rather, it was the gritty outing Yu Darvish turned in – a stark contrast from the guy who seemed mentally overmatched in many of his 2018 starts, often failing to get through five frames.

On the surface, his line from Saturday isn’t great – especially for a guy on a $126 million deal. Darvish turned in seven innings of six-run ball, allowing a dozen hits (three of which left the yard). He struck out just five and walked a pair in the victory.  But there was so much more than that in Darvish’s outing – as his teammates and manager pointed out after the contest.

"“He did great,” Maddon said. “He’s pretty good at processing exactly what did occur. What occurred is he pitched well and he battled for his team and he got into the eighth inning. He’s going to walk away with that. I totally believe that.”"

Was it pretty? Not really. But you know what, he knuckled down when his team’s bullpen was dangerously shorthanded and did enough to help the Cubs even up the series at a game apiece. The numbers don’t look great, but this was the first time we’ve seen Darvish focus and put his team on his back in the way we all hoped he would when he signed in Chicago two winters ago.

Next. Today, redemption is spelled: C-H-A-T-W-O-O-D. dark

This weekend didn’t bring the results we’d hoped for and the Cubs’ lead in the National League Central is down to 1 1/2 games entering play Monday. But the lessons we can all take away from this series could pay dividends as we head into the month of June and toward the second half.