Bote feels the power as Cubs rout D-backs

Darvish delivers his best start of the season

April 28th, 2019

PHOENIX -- April 21 marked the one-year anniversary of ’s Major League debut after seven seasons in the Minors. In that short period, the Cubs’ third baseman has had several big moments.

He hit an ultimate grand slam in a win over the Nationals last Aug. 12. He had a walk-off hit against the D-backs last Sunday -- then immediately left for the birth of his third child.

Add Saturday’s performance to Bote’s growing list.

Bote notched his first career multi-homer game in the Cubs’ 9-1 win over the D-backs at Chase Field. His career-high five RBIs fueled a big night for Chicago, which tallied 12 hits.

“He was much more pedestrian today, right in the middle of the game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon joked. “But he has that flair, man. He doesn’t change. When he gets in those moments, things don’t speed up, he doesn’t get quick with his body, he doesn’t try to hit the ball harder.”

Bote’s bid for a third homer sparked a benches-clearing incident in the seventh inning.

With a runner on second and no outs, Bote was hit by a 1-0 fastball from Arizona reliever Matt Koch. As Bote headed to first base, he exchanged some words with Koch, which led to the dugouts and bullpens emptying.

The umpires and D-backs manager Torey Lovullo quickly got to the middle of the scrum, which featured some heated discussion but no contact, and the situation quickly dissipated.

Cubs starter hit Adam Jones with a pitch in the first inning, but Maddon didn’t view the seventh-inning situation involving Bote as intentional or as a form of retaliation.

“Honestly, I don’t think [Koch] was trying to do that,” Maddon said. “Just like Yu wasn’t trying to get inside on Jonesy, and [D-backs starter Zack] Godley had a hard time. We had some guys having a hard time with fastball command. That’s what I saw, I didn’t see anything intentional. I mean that sincerely, I’m not trying to blow it off.”

Bote’s first home run capped a five-run, two-out rally in the third that began when Godley balked in a run. After Anthony Rizzo’s RBI double, Bote jacked a three-run homer to left field.

That home run traveled a Statcast-projected 469 feet with an exit velocity of 113.8 mph. It was the fourth-longest homer in MLB this season and the fifth-hardest home run hit by a Cubs player since Statcast began tracking in 2015 (postseason included).

“I got it good,” said Bote, who has 14 RBIs and a .953 OPS this season. “I knew as soon as I hit it it was gone.”

One batter before that, Godley fell behind 2-0 to Javier Baez, when the D-backs decided to intentionally walk the Cubs’ slugger.

“You’ve got the best player in baseball with a guy on second in an already 2-0 game, kind of unraveling there, I’m surprised they didn’t do it two pitches earlier,” Bote said. “I’m doing what my job is, to make it hurt."

Bote homered again in his next at-bat, belting a two-run homer to left to give the Cubs a 7-0 lead in the fifth.

Turning point for Darvish?

After posting a 5.96 ERA and not once completing six innings in his first five starts, Darvish had his best outing so far, allowing one run over six solid frames. He allowed only two hits, including a leadoff homer to David Peralta in the sixth, and struck out eight.

In the early innings, it appeared Darvish didn’t have great command. He loaded the bases with one out in the first, then worked out of it. He again got out of a jam unscathed in the second, when he issued back-to-back two-out walks.

Pitching with a 5-0 lead in the third, Darvish provided a shutdown inning, striking out the side in order. To end the frame, he got Christian Walker to whiff at a 97 mph fastball, his fastest pitch of the game.

“First two [innings] were rough, but after that, I felt pretty good about my command,” Darvish said. “Not the best, but after the third inning, I felt pretty good.”

As his starts continue to get deeper, what’s next for the right-hander?

“Seven innings,” Darvish quipped.