Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish impresses in his first major league action


Months of anticipation of Yu Darvish’s debut led up to less than a half hour of baseball action, but it was exciting baseball action all the same. The tale of the tape: two innings, 36 pitches, 26 strikes, no runs, a couple of hits, three strikeouts, a spiffy defensive play and the beginning of what’s bound to be a fabulous career.

My first impression of Darvish: he’s tall. We knew he was tall, but after seeing a half inning of Jeff Suppan before him, he looked all the taller. He also throws hard. We knew he threw hard, but after seeing a half inning of Jeff Suppan before him, he looked like he threw all the harder. And, at least according to these uneducated eyes, he had offspeed and breaking stuff that should be illegal.

Not that it was perfect: he gave up two doubles. One, by Orlando Hudson, was not very hard hit. The other, by Will Venable, was tattooed and probably would have been a homer if not for the very tall wall in center field here at the Peoria Sports Complex.  Venable was erased a couple batters later, however, when James Darnell chopped one in front of the plate, Darvish reached up tall — did I mention he was tall? — stabbed it, fired to his catcher and caught Venable in between third and home.  Greg Maddux, who has been working with Darvish in Rangers camp as a special assistant and made that play hundreds of times in his career, is likely to be proud.

Apart from that: three strikeouts: Cameron Maybin to lead off, Carlos Quentin to end the first and then John Baker to end the second.  Quention and Baker looked confused at the offspeed stuff. Baker looked practically lost. He may have well as had a piano leg with him.

And a final note that tells us that Darvish is a different guy altogether. Strike two to Baker was a hard foul back that just cleared the screen behind the plate and made the concourse just to the third base side. A man dove for the ball, dropping what was in his hands, and laid out full on the concrete to pick up the souvenir.  The man who dove: a credentialed Japanese photographer. The thing he dropped: a very expensive-looking camera.

You don’t do that for just anyone. But you do it for Yu.

Report: Kyle Schwarber will return to the Arizona Fall League on Saturday

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 16:  Injured player Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs is seen in the dugout before a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on August 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber will return to the playing field on Saturday, per a report by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. The club’s prized left fielder suffered a season-ending injury when he collided with Dexter Fowler back in April, tearing both his ACL and LCL and undergoing intensive knee surgery later that month.

While no nerve damage was discovered during the surgery, the Cubs have kept a close eye on Schwarber during his recovery and put a kibosh on any part-time or full-time role with the team until the spring of 2017. Getting a few reps in during the Arizona Fall League appears to be the last step in the 23-year-old’s rehab process. He will be part of the Mesa Solar Sox’ ‘taxi squad,’ making him eligible for games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.

Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 in 69 games with the Cubs during his debut season in 2015. He will be added to the Mesa Solar Sox roster in advance of their set against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday evening.

Playoff Reset: Cubs vs. Dodgers NLCS Game 6

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers stands on the pitcher's mound during game two of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 6
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)

The Upshot:

We’re pulling out the big guns for this one. The Cubs took Los Angeles by storm again in Game 5, closing out their road trip with an eight-run spread over the Dodgers, and tonight they’ll try to clinch the NLCS on home turf in Game 6.

Pitching-wise, it’s a rematch of Game 2 with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) on the mound. Kershaw took the first set against the Cubs, going seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 while Hendricks held the Dodgers to a single run over 5 1/3 innings. Adrian Gonzalez was the only Dodger to capitalize on Hendricks’ cutter, going yard in his first at-bat to generate a 1-0 lead.

The Cubs’ biggest strength so far this series has been an electric offense, something the Dodgers have struggled to replicate against left-hander Jon Lester and Joe Maddon’s airtight bullpen. While they’ve already beaten Hendricks at Wrigley Field once this October, they’ll need Kershaw to go the distance in another playoff gem if they intend to keep the Cubs’ championship hopes at bay with a 3.4-run average. Should Kershaw and his crew knot the series again, the tiebreaker will fall to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta in Game 7.