There were some added stakes to Saturday night’s Cubs-Dodgers matchup. Darvish made his first start at Dodger Stadium since his infamous Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series, looking for a great effort in front of a fan base that had their up-and-downs in terms of their relationship with him. He (maybe) took a small jab at the Dodgers before the game had even started, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't worried about being booed because “the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.”
Yu Darvish told @dylanohernandez that "the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side." It was not. The #Cubs RHP heard resounding boos when he was introduced before game.— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) June 16, 2019
Well Dodgers faithful certainly got the message and made sure to let Darvish hear it.
Yu Darvish with a warm welcome in his return to Dodger Stadium.— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) June 16, 2019
A loud collective “Yuuu” or boos? You be the judge...
Yes I know the correct answer. pic.twitter.com/waxvIQA4J0
However, Darvish got the last laugh on Saturday night. He pitched a stellar seven innings. Over those seven innings, Darvish gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and also notched 10 strikeouts.
10+ K starts by #Cubs pitchers this season— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 16, 2019
In 2018, they only had one (Quintana)
Darvish has been hitting his stride as of late, maintaining a 2.96 ERA over his last four starts.
"This was really important in my life. I think now I can move forward. I pitched good here." -- Yu Darvish, on pitching a gem in Dodger Stadium, where he lost Game 7 of the 2017 World Series— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 16, 2019
Joe Maddon on Yu Darvish: “When he really believes in himself and he has confidence in himself – he is one of the best pitchers in baseball.”— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) June 16, 2019
All of that being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contributions of Darvish’s teammates. His great outing helped keep the Cubs in the game, but the gutsy performances of Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Strop are what won the contest.
Dodgers All-Star relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had a 10-game scoreless streak coming into Saturday night, but one swing of Rizzo’s bat was all that was needed to restore balance to the everlasting battle of pitcher versus hitter. After Jansen hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to put him on base, Rizzo activated “clutch mode”, mashing a 400-foot bomb out to right field.
Though small, Saturday night’s homer gives Rizzo a three-game hitting streak, perhaps forecasting that things are trending upwards for the first baseman as the Cubs look to close out the series against the Dodgers with a win on Sunday night. And not to be left out of the fun, Pedro Strop came in to face the Justin Turner, MVP hopeful Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Matt Beaty to nail down the save.
Never afraid of high-pressure moments, Stop came through big time.
Strop got a ground out from Turner, struck out Bellinger and Beaty in his 15-pitch save effort. This was a much-needed win for the Cubs, who have well-documented struggles on the road. As they look to split the four-game set with the Dodgers on Sunday night, the Cubs can be pleased with their fight this week.
HUGE comeback win for the #Cubs as they notch their first victory after trailing through 6 innings on the season!— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) June 16, 2019
Darvish was great and Rizzo's 2-run shot in the 9th put the Cubs ahead for good pic.twitter.com/4rxOppQPLS
Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Cubs first win of the season after trailing through six innings, as they were 0-23 in such situations prior to the victory. Amid a season that has been fraught with injury and general roster construction concerns, it was wonderful to see the Cubs pull out a tough win lead by the much-maligned Darvish and the never-quit attitude of his teammates.
On Saturday, the Cubs announced that they are placing starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks on the 10-day I.L.with right shoulder inflammation.
Following Hendricks' injury, the Cubs recalled right-handed pitcher Rowan Wick from Triple-A. Wick will be available on Saturday night and beyond, as the Cubs continue their four-game series against the Dodgers.
This obviously a significant blow for the Cubs, as Hendricks is the team leader in innings pitched (88.1).
Prior to his loss on Friday night, Hendricks had won three straight outings, giving up less than 3 ER in each game.
The Cubs have plenty of options to replace Hendricks for the time being. With an off day until Monday, they could keep their rotation intact. Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery are options, and the Cubs could push Hendricks next start back to by going with a spot starter.
Said “not a sharp pain, more discomfort.”— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) June 15, 2019
Team discussing options for covering rotation spot, including Chatwood and/or using upcoming off days to go with 4 plus spot starter(s) as needed. https://t.co/oLjmiMglOM
Stellar pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is another intriuging option, and he is coming off of a great outing with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. On Fridaym he racked up 9 strikeouts, giving up 8 hits and 2 ER.
The 24-year old Alzolay is ranked as the Cubs' fourth-overall prospect and the Hendricks injury could open the door for Alzolay to get called up.
Will be examined at home by team doc. If not serious natural timeline would be just before or after All-Star break. (3 weeks from now) https://t.co/Zb0bKxnvoz— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) June 15, 2019
The more likely scenario is that Cubs manager Joe Maddon chooses to use Chatwood.
Chatwood is the only pitcher outside of the everyday rotation to have made a start this year and is the most obvious stopgap solution until we get further updates on Hendricks' status.