Yu Darvish returns in win, but questions still remain with Cubs pitcher

Yu Darvish returns in win, but questions still remain with Cubs pitcher

By the time Javy Baez collected the final out and fired it to Anthony Rizzo Tuesday night in the Cubs' 3-2 victory, Yu Darvish had already been out of the game for nearly two hours.

Darvish returned from the disabled list Tuesday and looked sharp overall, giving up only a run on a solo homer to go along with 2 other hits and a pair of walks with 5 strikeouts.

Yet he couldn't even get into the 5th inning.

Joe Maddon pulled Darvish from the game after 4 innings and only 61 pitches, opting to go with Mike Montgomery in the 5th and 6th innings:

After the game, Maddon said Darvish had leg cramps and the Cubs unsurprisingly didn't want to push it with their pitcher fresh off the DL after a bout with the flu. He has only made it past the 5th inning twice in the first 7 weeks of the 2018 season.

Darvish didn't even get the opportunity to prove he was past the 5th inning woes that have dragged him down all season to date, so we'll have to wait until his next start to see if he can take that next step and show why the Cubs invested $126 million in him.

Regardless, the Cubs halted their losing streak in thrilling fashion, collecting half their hits in the top of the 9th inning to reverse a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead.

Despite throwing the fewest innings of any pitcher in the rotation and the stint on the disabled list, Darvish still leads the team in strikeouts (42) and he lowered his season ERA to 5.56 and WHIP to 1.53 pitching for the first time in two weeks.

Cubs fans will get another look at Darvish Sunday, as he's on track to throw the final game of the series in Cincinnati, though rain may mess with the schedule before then.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa victimized the Tigers pitching staff again on the next night, taking Brian Moehler deep in the 7th inning for a 400-foot solo blast.

The homer tied the game at 3, but the Cubs blew the lead in the bottom of the 7th when the Terrys (Adams and Mulholland) gave up 3 runs. The Cubs wound up losing 6-4.

The Cubs were putting together a really nice season in 1998 that ended with a trip to October. They entered the series with the Tigers with a 42-34 record, yet lost both games to a Detroit team that entered the series with a 28-45 record. The Tigers finished the season 65-94; the Cubs finished 90-73.

Fun fact: Luis Gonzalez was the Tigers left fielder and No. 5 hitter for both games of the series. He spent part of the 1995 season and all of '96 on Chicago's North Side. 1998 was his only year in Detroit before he moved on to Arizona, where he hit 57 homers in 2001 and helped the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship with that famous broken-bat single in Game 7.

Fun fact  No. 2: Remember Pedro Valdes? He only had a cup of coffee with the Cubs (9 games in 1996 and 14 in '98), but started in left field on June 25, 1998. He walked and went 0-for-1 before being removed from the game for a pinch-hitter (Jose Hernandez).