Darvish shakes off nerves in first Cubs start
RIght-hander issues two walks, two wild pitches in first inning, fans four overall
MESA, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish admitted he was a little nervous in his Cubs debut Tuesday, but the right-hander settled down after a rough first inning and his teammates are ecstatic to have him on their side.
The last time the Cubs saw Darvish in action was Game 3 of the National League Championship Series when he held them to one run on one hit -- Kyle Schwarber's home run -- over 6 1/3 innings.
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"His stuff is sharp, it moves, he throws hard," Chicago's Kristopher Bryant said. "You have to stay on the fastball. His breaking stuff is really sharp and any time you have a pitcher who is going to throw a loopy curve in there, it's not a comfortable at-bat."
On Tuesday, Darvish gave up one run on two walks and struck out four over two innings in the Cubs' 9-5 victory over the Dodgers. He walked Chris Taylor to start the game, and Taylor advanced on a wild pitch, stole third and then scored on a wild pitch. Darvish did strike out the side and struck out another batter to end the second.
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He threw his fastball, slider, curveball and changeup and said it wasn't strange facing his former teammates.
"Everyone is great, each one of them," he said of the Dodgers through interpreter Daichi Sekizaki. "I just have a little feeling for them. It's Spring Training, and I don't want to hit any of their players."
Darvish had not pitched since Game 7 of the World Series, Nov. 1 against the Astros. He lasted 1 2/3 innings at that time, giving up four earned runs. There was talk after the Series that the right-hander was tipping his pitches.
"It's an easy thing to talk about and an easy finger to point the blame at," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Honestly, at this point I'm not overtly concerned. We've done our due diligence. Without tipping my hand, from what I'm hearing there are other reasons [the rough outings] may have occurred. I think in an organic way he'll be able to conceal his pitches better now. I think that's where we're going with this."
Darvish was aware of the claims and admitted he tried different things this offseason. He also tipped his cap to the Astros.
"Obviously, the Astros are a great, strong team," Darvish said. "I don't know if they knew my pitches. They could be a good strong team. I think it's part of me not being at the top level in the World Series."
This offseason, he lost 15 pounds and said Tuesday it was because of the World Series. The stadium radar gun flashed 95 mph for his fastball, so he looked strong.
What does Darvish bring to the Cubs?
"I think he adds fear to the other team," Benjamin Zobrist said. "I think when you get a guy like that, it's like, 'Oh, we've got to deal with Darvish? We just dealt with [Jon] Lester and [Kyle] Hendricks and then you throw Darvish in there and he's one of the top strikeout guys in all of baseball.'
"He can take a hitter who thinks he's hot and make him not very quickly. I think he adds fear to an offensive lineup, and if not fear, it's a whole lot of uncomfortability up there. There's nothing you can plan on -- 'Oh, I'm going to get this today and I'm going to take this kind of swing.' You never know what you're going to get. He can throw five different pitches in a bunch of different counts. He can throw them all. ... He can create a lot of havoc in an offensive approach."