We might not be able to adequately explain how Yu Darvish set a franchise record by going 10 consecutive starts without recording a decision.
But while he did snap the longest no-decision streak in the majors in more than 40 years in a 5-3 loss Wednesday night against the Braves, we had a pretty good idea of what his pregame ritual consists of.
About two hours before the game, a Cubs beat writer tweeted the following: “Press box wag: ‘Somebody needs to get Darvish a Notre Dame hat. That way he has “ND” across his forehead.’ ”
The first response to the tweet came from Darvish’s personal account: “I want this one,” he tweeted, along with a picture of a Cubs hat with a blue “W” emblazoned across the front.
Whatever it might say about the pregame habits of one of the team’s most active social media users, it certainly offered insight into the sense of humor he has unveiled more publicly this season.
As for what Darvish will have to wear now that he’s done facing the Braves’ potent lineup, the good news is it looks like he avoided Notre Dame.
Either way, there wasn’t a “W” in sight on this night as Darvish and the Cubs fell to 4-5 during the 10-game homestand.
Darvish shook his head when asked about the tweet after the game.
“I know,” he said. “Jinx.”
It certainly must have felt like it in the first inning when the first run of the game scored on a walk, stolen base, throwing error and wild pitch.
Home runs by left-handed hitters Brian McCann and Nick Markakis made it 5-0 and all but sealed the decision for Darvish (2-4), who hasn’t had a pitching decision since his victory at Arizona on April 27.
Darvish, who acknowledged that Twitter is part of his pregame ritual, doesn’t seem likely to change his habit on social media.
But after retiring the final eight batters he faced Wednesday, he believes he found a key to unlocking more success next time he pitches.
“Before the rain delay I always had problems with lefties, and today, too,” he said. “But during the rain delay I talked to [strategist Mike] Borzello and [lefty-hitting teammate] Carlos Gonzalez, and now I’m cleared against lefties.”
Two of the batters he retired after the delay were lefties.
“I can’t tell you right now, but it’s going to be good for my next start,” he said.
Maybe he’ll tweet it.
Until then, he’ll have to wear his seventh loss in 10 decisions whether it’s more about what’s on his head or in it.
On a night Darvish labored through almost 70 pitches to get through the first inning, his ERA rose to 4.97 in 25 starts as a Cub in 130⅓ innings.
The Cubs are 7-10 when Darvish has taken the mound this season.
At least he ended his no-decision streak, the longest in the majors since the Phillies’ Randy Lerch went 10 straight in 1977.
Manager Joe Maddon refused to pin this loss on Darvish.
“His stuff got better,” said Maddon, whose lineup went 0-for-5 with men in scoring position and 1-for-11 over the last two games, both losses. “The last fastball he threw might have been his best one.
“We still have to be more offensive with runners in scoring position. You’ve got to win a game 6-5 once in a while, too.”