In a moment that was 523 days in the making, Yu Darvish finally earned his first win at Wrigley Field as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
The veteran right-hander pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out seven in the Cubs’ 5-2 victory against the Cincinnati Reds. When closer Craig Kimbrel recorded the final out, Darvish could finally celebrate his elusive Wrigley Field moment after inking a six-year, $126 million contract on Feb. 10, 2018.
If you ask most of the parties involved, that's at least 490 days too long.
Darvish made his Cubs debut at Wrigley Field on April 13, 2018, but because of injuries, stretches of ineffectiveness and just plain bad luck, had never put a notch in his personal win column at the historic ballpark.
Though that changed on Wednesday, it also served to highlight what has been a tumultuous beginning to a Cubs career that began with a large financial commitment and high expectations.
Elbow injury ends Darvish’s 2018 season
Injuries were the hallmark of Darvish’s first season in Chicago. He was limited to just eight start for the Cubs in 2018.
Numerous attempts to return were met with setbacks, before the team officially ended his season in August. Weeks later, Darvish had an arthroscopic debridement on his right elbow after being diagnosed with a stress reaction.
Darvish made only three starts at Wrigley Field in 2018, going 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 15 innings. Overall, Darvish posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings.
Rough start to 2019
Back healthy to begin the 2019 season, Darvish showed signs of rust in the early going.
Things were especially rough at Wrigley Field. In six home starts between April and May, Darvish posted a 6.31 ERA over 31 1/3 innings. The Cubs managed to go 3-3 in those games, but had to overcome Darvish’s struggles to do so.
Overall, Darvish had a 5.02 ERA in his first 12 starts of 2019. Since then, he’s taken a step forward but had run into some tough luck in his search for a victory.
Close call on July 12
From May 4 until June 21, Darvish received neither a win, nor a loss in 10 straight starts, regardless of location. That set a Cubs franchise record for most consecutive no-decisions.
After that streak ended with a loss in Pittsburgh on July 3, Darvish bounced back with arguably his best start this season against the same Pirates by throwing six scoreless innings at home on July 12.
Unfortunately, that too only netted a no-decision. The Cubs failed to score until the seventh inning. And even then, the bullpen blew a 3-0 lead before winning 4-3.
At that point, it almost felt like Darvish’s first Wrigley Field win wasn’t meant to be. While most will agree now that pitcher win is an overrated and perhaps even useless stat when measuring pitcher success, it’s still nice to get them, after all.
Now that Darvish has one under his belt, and now that there’s some evidence of Darvish looking like his old self with back-to-back six inning gems, perhaps there will be new hope that a complete turnaround leading to many more wins is coming for Darvish.
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