Cubs fall; Wrigley W still elusive for Darvish

Righty ties MLB record with 10th consecutive no-decision

June 22nd, 2019

CHICAGO -- stared at the ground and put his hands on his hips, while Mets outfielder completed his trot around the bases on Friday afternoon. It was a moment of frustration for the Cubs pitcher that had its roots in another lead lost.

In a 5-4 loss to the Mets, Darvish surrendered a pair of homers after his lineup put the Cubs ahead, contributing to an odd streak of 10 consecutive no-decisions for the right-hander. Darvish is still searching for his first career win at Wrigley Field, and he has not had a decision of any kind dating back to the start of May.

"It's not only frustrating. It's weird," Darvish said. "I'm not losing. I'm not winning. That's just weird. I just want to win."

Excluding openers, Darvish is the first MLB pitcher to record 10 straight no-decisions since Randy Lerch in 1977, tying a Major League record.

Not all no-decisions are alike, though. Last time out, Darvish was brilliant against the Dodgers in a 10-strikeout, seven-inning performance. The problem was that Chicago's lineup went silent until delivered a game-deciding two-run home run in the ninth inning. With that shot, Darvish's name was removed from the loss column and another "ND" founds its way onto his pitching line.

"Is he setting records?" Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's pitched well enough to win, but again, we have to be a little bit more offensive."

Here's a look at how this unique streak has been built.

Losing leads

Twice in Friday's loss, Darvish actually played a role in sparking the Cubs' lineup.

Darvish sent a pitch from Mets lefty to right field for an RBI single, capping off a two-run second inning that gave Chicago a 2-1 advantage. Then, the pitcher gave up a two-run homer to New York's in the third. In the fifth, Darvish singled again and scored on a two-run blast by . A half-inning later, Conforto's solo shot pulled the game into a 4-4 tie.

"I knew I gave up a lot of runs after we score," Darvish said. "I really focused on Conforto with that pitch. It's just, he hit it."

Three of the 10 consecutive no-decisions could fall under the Lost Leads category for Darvish. Friday fits, as does June 10, when the righty allowed four runs in the third after taking the hill with a 4-0 lead. Back on May 25, Darvish had a 6-5 lead after seven innings and then gave up a home run to in the eighth.

Not including runs allowed by the bullpen after Darvish's exits, he has given up 17 runs and seven home runs in 17 2/3 innings when pitching with a lead over the past 10 starts. Entering Friday, opponents' had an .899 OPS off Darvish when the Cubs had a lead and a .623 OPS when Chicago was trailing.

"Well, primarily, I think once we grab a lead, he needs to hold onto it," Maddon said. "The inning after [we score] has been kind of biting him a little bit. If there's anything that I've noticed, it's the shut-down inning. We've got to get into the shut-down innings more consistently."

Other factors

Shakiness while working with a lead has been a contributing factor behind the string of no-decisions, but it is not the only issue involved.

There were two occasions in this stretch in which Darvish exited after only four innings -- on May 4 against the Cardinals and again on May 9 against the Marlins -- taking him out of the equation for a win. Against St. Louis, Chicago's lineup rallied, bailed Darvish out and picked up the victory. Against Miami, Darvish survived a surplus of walks, Mike Montgomery worked five innings of relief and the Cubs won that one, too.

There have been three no-decisions (May 20 against the Phillies, May 31 in St. Louis and Saturday in L.A.) that can have a lack of run support cited as the problem. And then there were another pair of Darvish outings -- one on May 15 in Cincinnati and another on June 5 against the Rockies -- in which the bullpen allowed runs that influenced Darvish's final line.

"It's just part of it, really," Rizzo said of the statistical fluke. "You win a bunch of games and you don't have good numbers, wins don't matter. If you don't win games and you have good numbers, wins all of a sudden matter. It's just part of it. The wins will start coming for him in due time."

Overall against the Mets, Darvish was charged with four runs on four hits in six innings, in which he struck out six and walked two. Following his exit, McNeil delivered a go-ahead RBI single off Montgomery to send the Cubs to their seventh loss in 11 games. And the blame did not fall squarely on Darvish, given a pair of baserunning lapses (including one by Rizzo in the eighth) that cost the Cubs some scoring chances.

"Too many mistakes," Maddon said. "They didn't make mistakes and we did, and thus they won the game."

And Darvish picked up a no-decision.

"I need 10 consecutive wins," Darvish quipped.