DARVISH SHARP IN CUBS’ WIN

Chicago Sun-Times - - CUBS BEAT - Steve Greenberg

Right-han­der Yu Darvish took a line drive off his back­side in the sixth in­ning of the Cubs’ 6-3 vic­tory Fri­day in the se­ries opener against the Pirates at Wrigley Field.

It had to hurt. It cer­tainly looked like it as he walked off the mound and to the dugout af­ter the in­ning, rub­bing the af­fected area and gri­mac­ing.

Oh, well. That was as bad as it got for the oft-put-upon Darvish on what was a truly ex­cel­lent night for him. Even the ball that hit him car­omed to short­stop Javy Baez, who threw to first base for the out.

Darvish en­tered start No. 41 with the Cubs stuck on a measly seven vic­to­ries in his first 40, but this was an im­por­tant fol­low-up to his dis­ap­point­ing out­ing against the Brew­ers in his sea­son de­but. He topped out at 98 mph. He worked quickly enough. Most im­por­tant, he looked com­fort­able and con­fi­dent.

Right off the bat, Darvish walked Adam Fra­zier lead­ing off the first. In­stead of wal­low­ing through a 20-plus-pitch frame, how­ever, he picked Fra­zier off first. From there, he pretty much coasted, al­low­ing two hits and strik­ing out seven in six in­nings.

Per­haps not quite as stretched out as fel­low right-han­der Kyle Hendricks, who ex­ceeded 100 pitches on his way to throw­ing an Open­ing Day shutout, Darvish ended at 86.

Adding a fa­mil­iar arm

Show of hands: Who re­mem­bers pitcher Cody Allen? Allen was the In­di­ans’ closer in 2016.

Show of hands: Who re­mem­bers what the Cubs did in 2016? Kid­ding. But Allen had an out­stand­ing sea­son and World Se­ries with the In­di­ans — and now he’s a Cub.

The Cubs agreed to a mi­nor-league con­tract with Allen in the hopes that he’ll get it go­ing again and come to the aid of a bullpen that is al­ready strug­gling.

‘‘He’s go­ing to try to build back up to the pitcher that we’ve seen in the past and a guy we’ve faced,’’ man­ager David Ross said. ‘‘When he’s right and his stuff’s right, he’s a pretty darn good big-league pitcher.’’

Allen, 31, has 153 saves and a 3.14 ERA in eight sea­sons in the ma­jors, the first seven of which were spent with the In­di­ans. He had a rough go with the An­gels in 2019, post­ing a 6.26 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP in 25 ap­pear­ances.

He’ll be­gin at the Cubs’ al­ter­nate train­ing site in South Bend, In­di­ana, bring­ing their 60-man player pool to 58 play­ers.

Wake up, it’s Nap

Speak­ing of mem­bers of the 2016 In­di­ans, Cubs qual­ity-as­sur­ance coach Mike Napoli is back with the Cubs af­ter miss­ing all of pre­sea­son camp and the first week of the sea­son fol­low­ing a pos­i­tive test for COVID-19.

Af­ter quar­an­tin­ing at home in Florida,

Napoli, 38, went through the in­take process in Chicago and was cleared Fri­day.

Hit me

First base­man An­thony Rizzo was plunked on the in­side of his left knee by Pirates starter Trevor Wil­liams, his 151st hit-by-pitch. That ties him for 22nd all-time with Chet Lemon, and, only 30, he has a whole lot of ca­reer left. ✶

NAM Y. HUH/AP

Cubs starter Yu Darvish yielded two hits and struck out seven in six score­less in­nings Fri­day.

Cody Allen

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