The Braves rolled into the Windy City for an afternoon tilt with the Cubbies Friday. Anibal Sanchez toed the rubber for Atlanta, while the Northsiders trotted out their $126 Million Dollar Man, Yu Darvish. While both pitchers tossed the first four frames in a scoreless fashion, it was Sanchez, and not Darvish, who looked like the better hurler today.
Sanchez went six innings, and with the exception of the third, he held the Cubs in check, with three 1-2-3 innings and a fourth that featured a double play. Darvish meanwhile, allowed four walks and nine hits in his 4 2/3 innings. The wheels came off in the 5th, when, after one out, Ozzie Albies doubled, went to third on a balk, and scored on a wild pitch. After getting Freddie Freeman to strike out, Darvish allowed a single to Nick Markakis, a double to Kurt Suzuki, and a three run homer to Preston Tucker, who broke out of a mini-slump with the homer and another knock. After that, Dansby Swanson walked, Ryan Flaherty singled (one of his three hits on the day), and Sanchez drew a base on balls that Yu knew was sending Darvish to the showers.
The bullpen locked down Chicago after that, with Sam Freeman working a perfect 7th, A.J. Minter working around a two out Ian Happ double, and Arodys Vizcaino setting down the heart of the Cubs’ order in the 9th. At 8-5 the Braves are now assured of finishing this scary nine game road trip above .500 for the season. And if someone told you we’d be 8-7 after 15 games, you might have called for the men with the butterfly nets.
Anyway, I’ll leave you with this afternoon’s guest singer for Take Me Out To The Ballgame. I’d say don’t give up your day job, but he’s better than I probably am, so I won’t. (In fact when I joined my church choir I told the director it was on the condition that I wouldn’t do any solos. She heard me sing and said, ‘That won’t be a problem.’)