MILWAUKEE -- Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow did exactly what the Cubs hoped the two pitchers would do when Chicago signed the pair this offseason.
"That was as advertised, the way Yu pitched and the way Morrow followed it up," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the two pitchers. "That's what you think you're going to get when you research and acquire these guys in the offseason. They definitely showed up today."
Darvish struck out nine over six innings and did not give up a hit until Eric Thames connected on his third homer of the season leading off the fourth inning. Two strikeouts later, Domingo Santana singled off Darvish, and that was the end of the righty's evening. Darvish didn't get a decision in the Cubs' 5-2 come-from-behind win, but Morrow picked up his first save in the team's eighth game.
This was Morrow's second appearance of the year. He had thrown two pitches in the Cubs' 17-inning loss to the Marlins on March 30, and that was it.
"I'm not really an anxious person but I was like, you know, you want to get in and pitch," Morrow said. "Players want to play. You don't want to sit on the bench. You get antsy. You want to get in there."
Darvish, who signed a six-year deal with the Cubs in mid-February, lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his debut on March 31 in Miami against the Marlins.
"The first game, he was too anxious to have a good start," catcher Willson Contreras said. "He was too anxious and made a lot of mistakes. Today, he was calmed down and executed every pitch."
Darvish's slider was his best pitch of his repertoire on Saturday. Contreras has to prepare for three different types of sliders.
"He has one to get ahead, the other one was to get the second strike, and one for punch-outs," Contreras said.
Does the catcher need three different signs?
"We have one signal for all three sliders," Contreras said. "I don't need two hands."
"He hits a groove with his delivery and it's a rhythmic thing," Maddon said of Darvish. "Once he gets to that point, heads up. He's going to throw strikes exactly where he wants and that's where he was at when we took him out."
Darvish said once he got his slider working, it made his fastball more effective, and his command of that pitch was better than in his first outing.
"As a baseball player, I think it's important for me to go out there and do my stuff and get results," Darvish said, dismissing any talk that his large contract is putting pressure on him.
Morrow, who signed a three-year deal with the Cubs in December, just wants to pitch, too.
"He was sharp for not pitching in a month it seemed," Maddon said of Morrow. "He had great stuff, he had great composure, mound presence, everything was there. He looked like a first-rate Major League closer."
"I was happy to finally get in there and luckily I didn't feel like I missed a beat," Morrow said. "I hope we're both important pieces along the way. Regardless of your role, you want to play an important part. Definitely getting off on the right foot is good. Hopefully the work comes a little more consistently. It means we're winning games."