Another day, another series win for the Chicago Cubs (25-12). After sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in a four-game series at Chase Field, the Cubs have come into Dodger Stadium and taken the first two of a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers (25-10), thanks to a 7-1 win on Tuesday via MLB The Show 20.
The matchup on the mound was Yu Darvish against former Milwaukee Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson. After throwing just 22 innings in 2019 and none in 2018 following the September 2017 shoulder injury he suffered while running the bases at Wrigley Field, Nelson had made 11 appearances out of the bullpen with the Dodgers prior to his start against the Cubs.
On Tuesday, Nelson went seven strong innings for the first time in what feels like an eternity. The right-hander had the Cubs offense stymied for most of the game, but fortunately for Chicago, Darvish was just a little bit better.
The Cubs opened the scoring in the 2nd inning when an RBI single from Nico Hoerner drove Kyle Schwarber in from second base to put them ahead 1-0. There would be no more scoring until the top of the 6th, when Ian Happ got hold of a hanging sinker from Nelson and drove it to deep center field for a solo shot, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Darvish was in control. He shut out the Dodgers for the first six innings and gave up his only run in the 7th when Cody Bellinger hit a solo homer to right field. That ended Darvish’s day at six innings, with that earned run on five scattered hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Nelson allowed two runs in his seven innings with five hits and two walks while striking out 11 batters on just 98 pitches.
The Dodgers would have their shot at tying the game or taking the lead in the 8th. Rowan Wick gave up a double to Justin Turner to start the inning, but was able to strike out both Chris Taylor and Mookie Betts. Kyle Ryan came in to replace Wick with the tough left-handed batters coming up, and he walked Bellinger on four pitches. Next up was Max Muncy, who struck out swinging to end the threat.
Los Angeles went to right-hander Ross Stripling in the 9th, at which point the Cubs were finally able to blow the game open. Stripling got the first two outs quickly, striking out Victor Caratini and getting Hoerner on a groundout. But Javier Báez pinch-hit and smacked a double to center field and suddenly Stripling lost his control. Both Kris Bryant and Steven Souza Jr. walked, loading the bases for Schwarber.
After the grand slam, the Cubs were now up 7-1 and Craig Kimbrel – who has been used often in the first month-plus of the year – was able to sit down and relax in the bullpen. Casey Sadler pitched the bottom of the 9th and had no issues closing out the victory.
Minors Update: Adbert Alzolay has been very good at Triple-A, throwing 29 2/3 innings over six starts with a 1.82 ERA and 37 strikeouts. Dillon Maples, who spent time with the big league club in April, has thrown 9 1/3 innings in relief with 11 strikeouts, six walks, and a 0.00 ERA. Robel Garcia is hitting .291/.328/.500 with six home runs in 110 at-bats.
David Ross indicated that relief pitcher Brandon Morrow may actually be back with the Cubs soon. He has made six appearances with the Iowa Cubs, throwing six innings and allowing two hits and two walks with no earned runs and 10 strikeouts.
Schwarber – 1-for-3, 2 BB, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI
Happ – 2-for-4, HR, RBI
Hoerner – 2-for-4, RBI
Báez – 1-for-1, 2B, R
Darvish – 6 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 1 ER, 8 K
Pederson – 3-for-4
Bellinger – 2-for-3, HR, RBI
Nelson – 7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, 11 K
Winning Pitcher – Darvish (5-2)
Losing Pitcher – Nelson (2-1)
Save – None
Home Runs – Happ (7), Schwarber (5), Bellinger (14)