It wasn’t a Tiger Woods-level fist pump. It barely registered on the Pedro Strop celebration scale.
Yet there was something truly exciting about Yu Darvish’s reaction Monday as he walked off the mound following a fifth-inning-ending strikeout of the Marlins’ Miguel Rojas in Miami.
He was all fired up, and it showed. And I can’t be the only one who saw that and thought: Thank goodness and about time — Darvish the Cub has finally arrived.
But then came, like a hair in the soup, the sixth inning. Although the Cubs led 5-2 and Darvish was on his way to his first victory since last May when manager Joe Maddon pulled him from the game with two outs, the fact that he didn’t finish the inning made the whole thing less palatable. I can’t be the only one who saw that and thought: Is this guy ever going to produce the superstar results the Cubs signed up for?
If Darvish gets into a groove this season and recovers his four-time-All-Star form, he’ll be the king of Cubdom. No one will even remember that it took him 12 starts in a Cubs uniform to get to victory No. 2.
Anything less than that, though, and here’s what Darvish is in for: He’ll be the most scrutinized athlete in Chicago (if he isn’t already). He’ll take the baton from teammate Jason Heyward, who took it from former Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who took it from former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Darvish can ask any of those gentlemen. It won’t be fun.
Aren’t many of us already fascinated — in ways good and bad — with Darvish’s every move? Is he healthy? Is he happy to be here? Is he one false move from a crisis on confidence? Will he ever discover the seventh inning?
If anything is worth scrutinizing, it’s this: Darvish has yet to pitch beyond six innings in a game with the Cubs. Three times — all in 2018 — he went six full. Already this season, Maddon has rescued him twice when it didn’t seem to the naked eye that he needed rescuing at all. The first came in Atlanta, where Darvish exited after four innings and 71 pitches. Then came Monday, just as Darvish was doing a reasonable impersonation of a really good pitcher.
“I’m working from the perspective of [trying] to let him go deeper and deeper and deeper and have him leave the ballpark feeling good about himself,” Maddon said.
Darvish was throwing nearly 100 mph in the sixth inning in Miami. His arm had to have more feel-good in it.
It’s high time Darvish gets through six and discovers — imagine it! — that elusive inning No. 7. On second thought, make that “rediscovers.” He pitched past the sixth 13 times in 31 starts with the Rangers in 2017, the last time he was an All-Star.
A fist pump only five innings into a night’s work? In hindsight, it’s kind of lame.
I’M JUST SAYIN’
You’re down to your last out, you need a hit or your hopes, dreams and very soul will be crushed, and you can send only one of these horrendous hitters to the plate: Kris Bryant (current average: 236), Albert Almora Jr. (.222), Kyle Schwarber (.192) or Anthony Rizzo (.182).
Who’s your pick?
No, you can’t punt.
No, you can’t send the White Sox’ Daniel Palka (.000) up there instead.
• The only sane way to view Byant’s struggles: If he’s healthy, he’ll have a terrific offensive season. If he’s not healthy, he won’t. Let’s hope the big prize is behind Door No. 1.
• Sox shortstop Tim Anderson for American League Player of the Month? There’s no reason he shouldn’t be right at the top of the list of candidates. You’ve got to hand it to him: He predicted in spring training that he’d blow up this season, and so far he’s making it happen.
• Loyola basketball coach Porter Moser hit all the right notes Tuesday in a statement announcing his intention to remain at the school. Moser reportedly was offered the St. John’s job, a chance to move up to a major conference.
“People in business say I’m crazy for passing up opportunities and the money,” he said. “But what they don’t know is the amazing young men I coach and the culture we have built. What they don’t know are the amazing young men who are committed to come to Loyola and wear the Maroon and Gold. What they don’t know are the people and friends that make up the Loyola community. And what they don’t know is what makes me tick.”
Another thing many of them may not know is that it took Chris Mullin four seasons in New York just to get the Red Storm within sniffing range of .500 in the Big East. Replacing him would’ve meant biting off more than most coaches could chew.
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