The Chicago Cubs and visiting Minnesota Twins will compete for a series win in the rubber match of a three-game set Sunday night at Wrigley Field.
Chicago (31-21) won Friday’s series opener 1-0, and the Twins bounced back for a resounding 8-1 win in the second game Saturday night. The win clinched a Twins playoff berth for the second year in a row along with securing the team’s third postseason appearance in the past four years.
Forgive Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli if he has bigger goals than just a playoff berth.
“Nothing that happens affects our group very much,” Baldelli said. “Nothing gets our group off of what we want to do when we show up to the baseball field. Doesn’t mean you’re going to play great, doesn’t mean you’re going to play poorly. But what it does mean is that everything else that we do over the course of the day, everything that our players do over the course of the day, is very consistent, and we know we’re giving ourselves the best chance to win a given game when we show up to the ballpark.”
Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish (7-2, 1.86 ERA) will go for his 71st career win and his 15th with the Cubs. He is coming off two winless starts despite posting a respectable 3.46 ERA during that time while allowing five earned runs on 11 hits in 13 innings.
Against the Twins (32-22), Darvish is 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA in three starts. He has 25 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings.
It is not surprising that Darvish is focused on his team’s success rather than his individual accolades. He always has been a tough critic of himself, and that continued this week as he evaluated his most recent start, when he gave up three runs (two earned) on nine hits in seven innings against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.
The Cubs eventually won the game 6-5, but Darvish did not factor into the decision.
“I was terrible today,” Darvish said afterward. “I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I still can’t believe I threw seven innings today and we won.
“I only had (the ability) to throw strikes, that’s it. The defense and offense had my back, and that gave me a lot of confidence.”
Darvish acknowledged that he helped the team by lasting 100 pitches, which included 77 strikes. He said in previous years when he did not feel great, “I can’t go more than five innings. But today’s totally different from before.”
The Twins will counter with right-hander Jose Berrios (4-3, 4.15) to set up an impressive pitching matchup in front of a nationally televised audience.
Berrios, 26, has pitched no fewer than five innings but no more than six innings in each of his previous five starts. In his last outing, he allowed one run on six hits in five innings against the Chicago White Sox, receiving a no-decision in a game that Minnesota eventually lost 3-1.
This will be Berrios’ second career start against the Cubs. In his first meeting in 2018, he took the loss after giving up six runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings for a 12.46 ERA.
–Field Level Media