Padres’ Yu Darvish shows Cubs he’s still the man in Wrigley return

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Darvish shows Cubs he’s still the man in return to Wrigley originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Yu Darvish pumped his fist twice, letting out a roar that elicited cheers from Padres fans and groans from the Cub faithful Monday night at Wrigley Field.

In getting Cubs outfielder Ian Happ to swing through a splitter down in the zone, Darvish escaped an eighth-inning jam to preserve San Diego’s 4-1 lead.

It also put a bow on his dominant outing against his former team.

Monday was Darvish’s first start at Wrigley since the Cubs traded him to San Diego in a salary dump 18 months ago — a move that kick-started the Cubs’ rebuild and preceded their deadline selloff last summer.

In eight innings, he allowed one run, five hits and no walks with seven strikeouts.

“That's who he is,” Happ said of Darvish. “He’s a really good pitcher in this game and did a good job of mixing up pitches, mixing up sequences, keeping us off balance there.”

The Cubs’ lone run off Darvish came courtesy of a Yan Gomes solo homer in the second inning that temporarily gave them a 1-0 lead.

San Diego tied it a half inning later and broke a 1-1 stalemate by scoring three runs off the Cubs bullpen in the eighth.

Darvish allowed a pair of two-out singles in the bottom half of the frame before striking out Happ.

Justin Steele was strong for the Cubs (seven innings, one run) but Darvish came home with the win. He's now beaten every MLB team excluding the Rangers (his original club) and the Orioles.

Monday looked like a typical Darvish outing‚ and one the Cubs grew accustomed to seeing from the second half of 2019 onward — the point at which he turned things around following a rough start to his Cubs tenure.

In fact, it was the first time Darvish completed eight innings in a start since Sept. 22, 2019, when he went 8 1/3 strong for the Cubs but took the loss vs. the Cardinals at Wrigley.

He threw his typical mix of pitches and generated 17 whiffs on 107 pitches.

“It’s an uncomfortable [at-bat],” manager David Ross said of Darvish. “There's not a whole lot to look for. We popped a lot of balls up. He got a lot of swings up in the zone on breaking balls that just didn't come down.

“He’s just got so many looks. He's got the cutter, he's got the split, the fastball. Looked like he found that a little bit later on. He throws so many different versions of his off-speed pitch.

"It's just hard to square up. That’s why he’s really good and gets paid a lot of money.”

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