The storyline coming into Saturday night’s game was all about Yu Darvish‘s return to Dodger Stadium for the first time since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. In the end, Darvish defeated his demons to pitch effectively and shut down the Dodgers offensively in a heartbreaking one-run loss. The lone blemish on Darvish’s night was a moonshot by Alex Verdugo in the fourth.
Darvish received a smattering of boos when his name was announced before first pitch, but the crowd was relatively quiet when he took the mound for the first time.
Perhaps it was because there weren’t many fans there yet.
Yu Darvish told @dylanohernandez that “the Dodgers don’t have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.” It was not. The #Cubs RHP heard resounding boos when he was introduced before game.— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) June 16, 2019
Or maybe some of us realize that Darvish’s World Series implosion wasn’t the only factor in the Dodgers’ loss. I mean, he was historically terrible, but one run wasn’t going to get it done against the Astros. One run didn’t get it done against the Cubs tonight either.
Darvish did get booed when he came up to bat. He was Walker Buehler‘s first strikeout victim of the night and it was a classic pitchers’ duel. Buehler brought the heat, and Darvish painted the corners. Each right-hander only allowed two hits to the opposition over seven innings of work.
Max Muncy‘s one-out single in the second was the only hit for either team through the first three frames. But then Verdugo took a Darvish fastball for a ride over the center field fence to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Buehler didn’t allow a base hit until the sixth when Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber hit consecutive one-out singles. But the Cubs continued to struggle with RISP this series, and Buehler was able to retire Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to squelch the threat.
The final pitching lines ended up to be very impressive for both starters. With how high Darvish’s ERA (4.98) and BB/9 (5.47) were going into tonight’s contest, it was predictable that the Dodgers wouldn’t be able to muster much off him.
Darvish: 7 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 10 K, 1 BB, 109 pitches (68 strikes)
Buehler: 7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 6 K, 0 BB, 100 pitches (69 strikes (nice))
Pedro Baez pitched a scoreless eighth, effectively doing his job once again as the proverbial Bridge To Kenley.
Meanwhile, Enrique Hernandez has been struggling with the bat, and he had another rough night. He made an error at shortstop, and he was picked off in the bottom of the eighth after he singled. That blunder prevented the Dodgers from scoring an insurance run, because David Freese and Chris Taylor hit back-to-back singles thereafter. That would prove to be a very costly mistake.
It was up to Kenley Jansen to close things out with a one-run lead. The tying run immediately reached when he hit Bryant with an errant cutter. That was only the second batter Jansen hit all season. Then Rizzo gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead with one swing of the bat. He crushed a cutter to right field to put Chicago ahead in the ninth.
Pedro Strop got the save after striking out two and shutting down the Dodgers’ bats in the bottom of the ninth.
With the loss, the Dodgers are now 47-24 overall and 27-8 at home.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-1, 1.36 ERA, 2.63 FIP, 15.40 K/BB) looks to continue his dominance Sunday evening in the series finale. The Cubs look for the series split, while the Dodgers can still secure a series win. Chicago sends fellow southpaw Jose Quintana (4-6, 3.89 ERA, 3.64 FIP) to the mound in the nationally televised game on ESPN. First pitch is at 4:05 p.m. PST.