The Cubs continued their winning ways on Wednesday in Kansas City, taking down the Royals 6-1. Yu Darvish threw seven solid innings and the offense tacked on some insurance runs late. Here are some takeaways from the game:
Keep the ball rolling
After his last start Friday, Yu Darvish said he felt like he did in the second half of 2019, acknowledging he still needed to work on some things — mechanics, command and his cutter. He followed that up with his second straight quality outing of the season.
Darvish tossed seven innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out four. Two of those hits — a double and single — came in the third inning and resulted in Kansas City’s lone run. Four of the five were singles.
Outside of the third, Darvish only ran into trouble in the sixth. With Whit Merrifield on third and one out, he froze Ryan O’Hearn with a 97-mph sinker on the inside corner for a strikeout and then got Salvador Pérez to groundout to Javier Báez to end the frame.
The Cubs have now thrown six straight quality starts and nine total this season. Their rotation ERA stands at a pristine 1.95.
After a Kris Bryant single and Anthony Rizzo walk, the Cubs were in business to start the fourth inning. Báez dropped a bloop single into right field to bring home Bryant but didn’t run immediately out of the batter’s box, watching the ball.
The hit dropped near the foul line but Báez could have had a double. That would have set the Cubs up with runners on second and third with none out.
Instead, Rizzo advanced to third and Báez to first, and Willson Contreras grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to score Rizzo. The Cubs came away with two runs but had a chance for more.
Taking advantage of mistakes
The Cubs tacked on some insurance runs in the eighth after Bryant reached on a two-out error by Royals third baseman Maikel Franco. Rizzo, Báez and Contreras hit consecutive singles to score two runs, putting the Cubs ahead 4-1.
In the ninth, Victor Caratini scored from first on a single by Bryant after Merrifield bobbled the ball in center. Both errors gave the Cubs some added breathing room.
Scoreless outing from bullpen
Ahead 4-1 in the ninth, the Cubs had Rowan Wick and Colin Rea warming up, Wick for a potential save and Rea if the offense scored a few more. They did just that, adding two runs and removing the save opportunity.
Rea, the 2019 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, pitched a scoreless ninth inning, allowing an infield single with two strikeouts. Setup man Jeremy Jeffress delivered a 1-2-3 eighth inning with one strikeout. It's the third scoreless outing from the bullpen in the last four games.
Former Stanford teammates Nico Hoerner and Kris Bubic squared off for the first time as professionals on Wednesday. The two are Bay Area natives and have known each other dating back to high school.
Bubic got the best of Hoerner this time around, getting him to pop out to right field and ground out to third base.
Where they stand
The Cubs improved to 10-2, surpassing their 9-3 start through 12 games from 2016.
The Cubs and Royals will wrap up their four-game season series on Thursday in Kansas City. Tyler Chatwood and Brad Keller are the probable starters.