It didn’t take Cubs right-hander Zach Davies long to get comfortable on the mound in his new home ballpark. Davies, 28, was in cruise control from the first inning Sunday against the Pirates and earned his first victory in a Cubs uniform.
After Kyle Hendricks’ abbreviated outing Thursday on Opening Day, the Cubs needed some quality innings from their starters. Jake Arrieta turned in six innings Saturday, and Davies followed suit with 5‰ innings in the Cubs’ 4-3 victory in the series finale.
Davies allowed two runs and four hits, struck out five and walked three. The only damage against him came on a two-run home run by Colin Moran in the sixth inning.
‘‘Being able to establish the sinker on both sides of the plate early in the game, throw it for strikes, then being able to expand off of that,’’ Davies said. ‘‘They were patient early on, which I tried to focus in on and adjust as fast as possible, so I know what I’m going to be able to do that day. And being able to get ahead of guys, being able to look at the fastball, just helps that changeup play more and get them more aggressive and swinging out of the zone.’’
Davies notched his 500th career strikeout by punching out left fielder Bryan Reynolds to lead off the fourth.
‘‘We’ve seen a lot of that before [with] him pitching against us,’’ third baseman Kris Bryant said. ‘‘Obviously, [he] reminds us a lot of Kyle and just how quick he works with the fastball, changeup, cutter, curve — all the pitches for strikes. He’s going to keep you off-balance and really only made one mistake today. . . . But, you know, he’s gonna be a good one for us.’’
Romine trending up
Catcher Austin Romine hasn’t played in a game since March 6 after suffering a sprained right knee during spring training, but he appears close to making his return.
Romine took batting practice and ran the bases aggressively before the game Saturday. If things continue to go in the right direction, he could begin taking live batting practice at the Cubs’ alternate site in South Bend, Indiana.
‘‘The ball was coming really well off the bat [Saturday],’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘Looks like he’s in a pretty good place. He’s continuing to work to move forward. He’s doing some blocking stuff [Sunday] and running the bases again. He’ll take batting practice again. It’s a day-to-day thing. Just as long as he continues to feel good, we’ll test him each day with a little more on his plate and see how everything responds.
‘‘And then at some point we’ll send him to get some live at-bats [in South Bend]. But right now, we’re just continuing to take it kind of day-to-day and make sure we listen to his body and get him ready, so he can be healthy for the entire season.’’