With as many times as the Chicago Cubs offense has failed to do enough to get Yu Darvish a win this year, it seemed fitting they bailed him out Wednesday.
If you’re in the same camp as guys like Goose Gossage, Pete Rose, Lou Piniella or Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon – one that believes the little nuances and strategy that made the game of baseball great is gone – you might not have enjoyed Wednesday’s game. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Maddon is probably fine given his team came out on top, reclaiming first place in the NL Central race.
This win felt different. Don’t get me wrong – Chicago has downright dominant at Wrigley Field this year, going 43-19 at the Friendly Confines. That mark trails only the Los Angeles Dodgers among National League clubs. But if you ask surging first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, who delivered the game-winning home run, to come out on top in a back-and-forth battle like this has the makings of the spark this team has been searching for.
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"“That’s what Rizz told me,” Bryant told MLB.com. “I can’t disagree with him. It’s one of those games where you don’t feel like you’re going to win, just because you’re taking a lead and then giving it back. We came out on top, and there’s definitely some good momentum here.”"
The Cubs’ dynamic duo couldn’t do more to help Chicago get its 68th win of the season. Bryant and Rizzo combined to go 4-for-9 with five runs and three RBI. But the guy who set the table for this tandem? You guessed it. Nicholas Castellanos.
Prior to the game, we looked at what a Castellanos extension might look like. Letting this guy test the market could end poorly for the Cubs. That statement rings especially true after this one, where he scored twice, reached base four times, scored twice and drove in a trio of runs.
Since coming to Chicago at the trade deadline, Castellanos has epitomized everything this team was lacking: timely hitting, an all-out style of play and relentless hustle. That very hustle set the stage for Bryant’s game-winning blast in the eighth after Castellanos beat out an infield single.
Boy, it felt good to see the offense take care of business – especially on a night when the San Francisco Giants made Yu Darvish pay for his few mistakes.
The right-hander became the first player in Chicago Cubs history to turn in five consecutive starts of at least eight strikeouts and no walks – as he continued a historic run. But as historic as that stretch has been, he ran into big-time trouble on Wednesday.
After allowing a two-run home run to third baseman Evan Longoria in the first inning, Darvish settled in – at least for a bit. The Giants got to him again in the fifth and sixth, though, chasing the right-hander after 5 1/3 frames. The book closed on the Cubs starter with him allowing seven runs- six earned – on seven hits – four of which left the yard. The long-ball continues to plague Darvish, who has allowed 30 on the year, the fourth-most in the National League.
Something I think we all enjoyed though? After the game, Darvish fired back at Chicago sports talk host David Kaplan, who questioned the hurler’s pitch selection. Good. On. Him.
All is well that ends well, though. This was an offensive battle – and with a fourth-straight win, the Cubs have a chance to complete the three-game sweep with a matinee matchup Thursday afternoon. Kyle Hendricks will take the ball for Chicago, looking to slam the door on the Giants’ slim playoff hopes.