Cubs can’t dig out of early Darvish hole; Mor­row suf­fers set­back

Darvish lasts 5 in­nings, al­low­ing 3 runs, as the Cubs’ 4-game win­ning streak ends

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGO SPORTS - Paul Sullivan psul­li­[email protected]­ Twit­ter @PWSul­li­van

On a warm, sunny af­ter­noon in spring train­ing, Yu Darvish said he didn’t want to hear boos any­more at Wrigley Field.

“I want ‘Yu­uus,’ ” he said in March.

Maybe that day even­tu­ally will ar­rive, but the boos re­ver­ber­ated Satur­day af­ter the Cubs starter strug­gled early in a 6-0 loss to the Di­a­mond­backs be­fore 37,667 on an­other windy day at Wrigley.

The Cubs fell back below .500 at 9-10 and will send Tyler Chat­wood to the mound Sun­day for his first start since Au­gust.

Darvish lasted five in­nings be­fore be­ing lifted for a pinch­hit­ter, al­low­ing three runs on five hits and three walks with seven strike­outs.

“Over­all, not hor­ri­ble,” man­ager Joe Mad­don said. “Not a bad per­for­mance. The homers early make it look worse than it was.”

Of course, when you’ve signed a pitcher to a six-year, $126 mil­lion deal, “over­all, not hor­ri­ble” isn’t ex­actly what you’re ex­pect­ing. Darvish is 1-3 with a 5.96 ERA and has failed to last six in­nings in any of his five starts. He said he could have gone longer Satur­day but knew the sit­u­a­tion the Cubs were in — trail­ing 3-0 when Mad­don lifted him for a pinch hit­ter af­ter 88 pitches.

“I un­der­stand base­ball is dif­fer­ent than the Amer­i­can League,” he said. “A lit­tle dis­ap­pointed, but that’s Na­tional League.”

How im­por­tant is it for Darvish to last six in­nings or more in his com­ing starts?

“When I can go there, I can get more con­fi­dence,” he replied. “So I want to throw more than seven in­nings.”

Be­fore the game, Mad­don was ex­cited about the new Darvish, who was com­ing off his first win Mon­day in Mi­ami.

“Hon­estly, I’d take what I saw

last time — con­tin­ued ag­gres­sive­ness, as­sertive­ness, and re­ally pitch with the emo­tion I saw,” Mad­don said. “I’m re­ally stuck on that with him. If he just pitches with an­i­ma­tion and takes off all the shack­les that sur­round him and just plays, I would take that, be­cause the abil­ity is so high end. Just per­mit him­self to go out there and be great. This guy can re­ally turn it on.”

But Darvish served up back-to­back home runs to Ed­uardo

Es­co­bar and David Per­alta in the first and walked off the mound with his head down. Es­co­bar’s prodi­gious home run to right came on a 2-0 pitch, while Per­alta hit a line shot to right on an 0-2 of­fer­ing, ig­nit­ing the boo­ing.

Darvish walked the first two hit­ters in the sec­ond, elic­it­ing more boos. One of those walks scored on a sac­ri­fice fly to put the Cubs in a 3-0 hole, and with Zack Greinke on the mound and deal­ing for the Di­a­mond­backs, the Cubs were down for the count.

Greinke (3-1) pitched six score­less in­nings, with the key mo­ment com­ing in the fourth when he caught Jason Hey­ward look­ing at strike three with run­ners on the cor­ners to end the in­nings.

“I got to see ev­ery­thing from him to­day . ... You’ve got to tip your hat,” Hey­ward said. “He threw a per­fect pitch.”

A three-run sixth off re­liever Allen Web­ster ended any feint chances of a late come­back, and the Cubs’ mod­est four-game win­ning streak was over.

Darvish ob­vi­ously has the stuff to dom­i­nate and said in spring train­ing he was throw­ing as good as any time in his ca­reer. But he hasn’t been able to put to­gether any con­sis­tency, and the in­abil­ity to get past the sixth is a con­cern.

Try­ing to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions has been a task for Darvish.

“For one, ex­pec­ta­tions, you’re never go­ing to reach them,” Hey­ward said. “I feel like (he should be) keep­ing it sim­ple, don’t try and reach for that. Just go out and be yourself. Go out with the right mind­set of how you’re go­ing to at­tack peo­ple. … His stuff is nasty, plain and sim­ple. Any­time I pitch with Yu on a video game, it’s guar­an­teed one-hit­ter at least. But I feel like his con­fi­dence is an­other thing he’s go­ing to keep build­ing on.

“Ev­ery game is dif­fer­ent. To­day was I guess you could say a set­back, or what­ever. His last start was pretty good. His next start I know he’s go­ing to come out and be hun­gry again.”

Cubs starters have been a key to their resur­gence from a 1-6 start, with Jose Quin­tana and Cole Hamels lead­ing the charge. Kyle Hen­dricks had his best start of the sea­son Fri­day, while Jon Lester is ex­pected back from his ham­string in­jury in the next week.

If the real Darvish can be­come the video-game ver­sion of him­self, gain some con­fi­dence and get over his early in­ning strug­gles, the ‘Yu­uus’ will come around.



Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish steps off the mound as Ari­zona’s Ed­uardo Es­co­bar rounds the bases af­ter hit­ting a home run Satur­day.

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