Yu Darvish had a strong showing in his first start at Dodger Stadium since signing with the Chicago Cubs in free agency, and an Anthony Rizzo go-ahead home run in the ninth inning made it more of a memorable return in a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Darvish did not shy away from the personal significance of making a start against his former team. He’d last pitched at Dodger Stadium in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, and has worn the brunt of the blame for the Dodgers falling to the Houston Astros.
Darvish was unceremoniously booed during lineup introductions and for each of his at-bats. He didn’t appear fazed, however, limiting the Dodgers to just one run and two hits while collecting 10 strikeouts over seven innings.
Alex Verdugo’s 459-foot drive to the pavilion in center field marked the longest home run at Dodger Stadium this season and it was the furthest since Giancarlo Stanton hit one completely out at 475 feet in 2015.
Walker Buehler did his part to uphold the slim lead despite multiple instances of sloppy defense behind him. Buehler began the game by retiring the first nine batters faced, aided by Kiké Hernandez making a terrific sliding stop at shortstop in the second inning.
Hernandez was then charged with a tough throwing error in the fourth, giving the Cubs their first baserunner of the game. Buehler’s no-hitter was dashed on Addison Russell’s one-out single in the sixth inning.
Kyle Schwarber followed with a base hit of his own, putting the young Dodgers right-hander in a jam for the first time. Buehler responded by retiring Kris Bryant and Rizzo to preserve the Dodgers’ 1-0 lead.
Max Muncy’s two-out error in the seventh inning on a routine ground ball allowed the Cubs to put the tying run on base yet again. Buehler stranded another, getting Carlos Gonzalez swinging for his sixth and final strikeout of the game.
He passed the baton to Pedro Baez, who induced a double play after a leadoff walk to toss a scoreless eighth inning. Kenley Jansen hit Bryant with his first pitch to start the ninth and compounded that by surrendering a go-ahead home run to Rizzo.
Entering Saturday, Jansen had gone 8-for-8 in save opportunities and strung together 10.1 scoreless innings over 10 appearances since blowing a save to the San Diego Padres on Hunter Renfroe’s walk-off grand slam.
Beyond Rizzo bringing the Cubs from behind, his home run amplified Kiké Hernandez getting picked off with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. A pair of singles followed, which presumably would have drove in a run and meant the Dodgers found themselves tied in the bottom of the ninth instead of trailing.