The Cubs headed to New York with 32 games remaining on the schedule and needed to start racking up road wins to make the playoffs, let alone win the division. Yu Darvish was on the mound after a rough outing against the Giants last time out and things didn’t start out so well.
Darvish danced around hard contact throughout the first three innings before surrendering a leadoff blast to Mets Rookie of the Year candidate Pete Alonso in the 4th. The Cubs answered right back in the top of the 5th when Victor Caratini smacked a leadoff double and went along for the ride on Addison Russell’s two-run homer to center.
Their 6th inning would be a carbon copy of the 5th, as Kris Bryant hit a ringing double to left and Javy Báez swatted a two-run homer to right. Doubles by Nicholas Castellanos and Báez in the 8th inning extended the lead to 5-1.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Darvish spun a gem, which is just what the Cubs needed to kick off this road series. Eight strong innings against a surging Mets team helped gave the Cubs’ bats time to figure Marcus Stroman out and build a lead with some big hits.
Brandon Kintzler gave up a solo home run to J.D. Davis in the bottom of 9th, but it wouldn’t matter as they would hang to win 5-2. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Darvish put this team on his back and took care of business when it mattered most. The offense rewarded his effort, too. They went 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position and made the most of their opportunities.
Faced with a one-run deficit, the Cubs came back with a two-run homer from Russell in the 5th and never looked back from that point.
Stats That Matter
- Russell: 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI. That is now two homers in two games for Russell. With playing time limited, any kind of offensive contribution he can offer helps this team a great deal.
- Darvish: 8 IP, 7 K, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB. The walk to Todd Frazier ended a streak of 142 batters faced without issuing a free pass. This was his longest outing of the season and of his Cubs career.
- Baez: 3-for-3, HR, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, BB. Baez hasn’t been himself at the plate as of late, but appears to have broken out of his slump.
- Castellanos: 1-for-4, double. He tied his career high in doubles with 46 and something tells me might raise that total before the seasons wraps up.
This outing from Darvish couldn’t have come at a more critical time, especially after getting kicked in the teeth over the weekend. The offense also came through in a major way tonight and part of it was due to Báez. If they are going to make the playoffs, they are going to need a major contribution down the stretch from their most dynamic player.
The Cubs continue their brief road trip in Queens as Kyle Hendricks toes the rubber against Noah Syndergaard. Wednesday’s game is at 6:10pm CT and can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago or heard on 670 the Score.