Cincinnati Reds: Team scores early against Cubs to spoil Darvish’s historic start


Sonny Gray allowed four hits as Reds hitters capitalized on Darvish’s vulnerabilities.

The Cincinnati Reds jumped on Yu Darvish and the Cubs early, scoring three runs in the first inning Tuesday in their 4-2 win. 

It took seven pitches for the Reds to score their first run on a Joey Votto RBI double, which scored Josh VanMeter, who got on with a leadoff single. Aristedes Aquino added two more first-inning runs with a home run that brought in Votto.

The Cubs got one back in the bottom half of the inning when Kyle Schwarber missed a home run by a mere foot or two, as the ball bounced off the top of the center field wall under the netting that lines the Wrigley brick outfield wall. Nicholas Castellanos scored on the play. Schwarber would strike again with a triple in the third that scored Castellanos a second time.


After a rough first inning, Yu Darvish would make history with his pitching performance during the next three innings. Darvish sat down eight consecutive Reds batters with strikeouts, starting with Sonny Gray for the second out in the second inning and ending with Brian O’Grady for the third out in the fourth. 

Jose Peraza broke up Darvish’s strikeout streak with a lineout to third baseman Kris Bryant. Those eight consecutive strikeouts pitched by Yu Darvish would establish a new franchise record for the Chicago Cubs. 


Peraza’s ability to put the ball in play during that at-bat must have rekindled the rest of the Reds lineup, as the next batter, Sonny Gray, singled to right-center and later scored on a Eugenio Suarez single. 

Darvish did not strike out another Reds batter until the seventh inning when Darvish finished off Jose Peraza. Fitting enough, Peraza’s strikeout meant that every player in the Reds’ starting lineup had a strikeout. 

The Cubs threatened with runners in scoring position multiple times, but could not get a runner to cross home plate. They came closest in the bottom of the seventh when Tony Kemp pinch-hit for Darvish, ending his pitching performance. Kemp drew a six-pitch walk, allowing Ben Zobrist to step up to the plate. He singled on a curveball and sent it to Phil Ervin in left field, and Kemp grabbed two bases on the hit. 

Michael Lorenzen was called on in relief of Sonny Gray to face Nicholas Castellanos with two outs. Castellanos battled but ultimately struck out on a 1-2 slider.


Reds pitchers continued to hold down a recently fierce Cubs lineup. Coming into the game, the Cubs had scored 55 runs in their previous four contests. Raisel Iglesias got a pinch-hitting Ian Happ to strikeout looking on a full count fastball to earn the save.

Sonny Gray earned the win, striking out nine and allowing four hits in 6.2 innings on the bump. Yu Darvish took the loss in a game where he dominated most but allowed too much to unravel. He finished with 13 strikeouts in seven full innings of work. 

An interesting moment occurred in the bottom half of the second inning. As Sonny Gray delivered a pitch to Yu Darvish, third base umpire Jeff Nelson called a balk. The four umpires then approached Gray and encircled him, and the five of them hashed out what exactly gave way for the balk call. Sonny Gray was seen smiling when the umpire crew dispersed. It turns out, Gray had his right foot against the rubber, parallel to it. He then stepped back and unleashed the pitch from the windup, or the “hybrid” pitching mechanics. Major League Baseball frowns on this method, prompting the balk call that left viewers with confusion initially. 

The Reds and Cubs will play again Wednesday night at 8:05 central standard time. The Reds will start Tyler Mahle (2-11, 5.11 ERA) against the Cubs’ Jon Lester (13-10, 4.59 ERA) in the third and final contest of the three-game set.


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