Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon had a plan for facing Yu Darvish in the Texas star’s return from the disabled list: Load up on lefties and wait him out.
It worked, neutralizing Darvish’s nasty slider and his nine strikeouts.
Darvish could not get through the fifth inning and the lefty- hitting Anthony Rizzo’s two-run double helped lead Chicago past the Rangers 3-1 on Saturday.
Photo: Jerry Lai - USA TODAY
“A guy like that, if you just let him have his way, he’ll be sitting on 70 [pitches] in the sixth inning, he’s going to beat you up,” Maddon said. “His stuff is that good.”
In his first start since June 8 because of shoulder pain, Darvish (2-1) reached 157.72kph and allowed only two runs and two hits. However, the Japanese right-hander lasted just 4-1/3 innings thanks to four walks and shoddy defense.
“I was throwing the ball well,” Darvish said through an interpreter while declaring himself pain-free. “It was a little different feeling from the last rehab outing in a good way.”
Jason Hammel (8-5) struck out seven in six innings for the Cubs, who won their second straight in the interleague matchup of division leaders.
Hector Rondon pitched a perfect ninth to complete the three-hitter for his 15th save.
Darvish, a three-time All-Star, was making his fourth start since missing all of last year following Tommy John surgery.
Darvish fanned Kris Bryant twice, including on a slider in the third. Seven of Darvish’s strikeouts came on the slider that was dipping out of the strike zone.
“[Kris Bryant] has really not been in chase mode, and when he’s chasing the slider you know how good it actually is,” Maddon said. “He was all of that today.”
Darvish was lifted after 90 pitches when second baseman Rougned Odor dropped what could have been an inning-ending double play.
Darvish hurt himself when he walked Miguel Montero, who entered hitting .201, to lead off the third. Then Rizzo’s two-out double to right extended his hitting streak to 11 games and put the Cubs ahead to stay.
“I threw that slider where I wanted it to be and I struck him out on the previous at-bat,” Darvish said. “Got to tip my hat to him.”
Hammel allowed three hits in his first victory since June 4. Matt Szczur pinch-hit for the right-hander in the sixth and hit an RBI single off Shawn Tolleson. It was Szczur’s 10th pinch hit and second for an RBI in as many days.
Texas’ lone run in the game — and the series — came in odd fashion in the second.
Ryan Rua singled and scored from second on Elvis Andrus’ infield single after the first baseman Rizzo threw wildly to the plate.
Texas has dropped a season high-tying four straight and nine of 11.
“We’ve got to find a way of putting a good combination of a solid start and solid offense on the board, and play good defense,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said.
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