CHICAGO – It was going to be hard for any Cubs’ pitcher to follow the performance put on by the team’s opening day starter on Friday night.
Kyle Hendricks was impressive in his complete game shutout of the Brewers to begin the shortened 2020 season, putting perhaps a bit of pressure on Yu Darvish as he took the mound for the first time.
He was arguably the Cubs’ best pitcher at the end of the 2019 season, and fans were eager to see what this shortened campaign might have in store for the veteran pitcher. Unfortunately, from the beginning, things didn’t go as cleanly for Darvish or the Cubs pitchers in the second game of the year.
A high-pitch first inning got the starter off on the wrong foot and allowed three runs in four innings. The bullpen couldn’t hold Milwaukee down after he left, surrendering five more runs in an 8-3 loss to the Brewers at Wrigley Field.
It’s the first loss of the David Ross era as the pitching staff couldn’t match what took place on opening night.
Darvish wasn’t able to get a clean start as he began with a 20-pitch first inning. While he got out of that without a run allowed, he wasn’t so lucky in the second, though it wasn’t all his fault. A botched rundown in the second inning kept it alive for Milwaukee, who got an Eric Sogard RBI single to tie it at one.
A clean third inning, with Darvish striking out the side, was followed by a bad fourth. After a hitting Omar Narvaez, allowing a single to Lorenzo Cain, then a wild pitch, Ben Gamel tripled home two runs to make it 3-1. With his pitch count already at 73, Ross pulled him from the game, and put it in the hands of the bullpen.
It didn’t work out as five bullpen arms failed to keep the Brewers down. Duane Underwood Jr allowed a run in the fifth, and despite getting two runs back on Kyle Schwarber’s first home run of the year, it wasn’t enough.
Christian Yelich blasted a two-run homer to dead center field in the sixth of Brad Wieck to push the lead back to three. James Norwood gave up two more runs in the seventh on a double by Narvaez and a single by Cain.
The six pitchers are a far cry from Ross’ easy complete game he got from Hendricks on a day where the vibes weren’t quite what they were about 16 hours earlier.