Tsuyoshi Wada earns his first MLB win as Cubs beat Rockies
CHICAGO — After nine seasons in Japan and three years in the minor leagues, Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada finally picked up that elusive first major league victory.
Wada (1-1) left little doubt about Monday night’s outcome in pitching seven strong innings as the Chicago Cubs defeated the Colorado Rockies 4-1.
“I’m so happy for him,” catcher John Baker said. “It’s great, when you’re having a tough season like we’re having, to have little victories like that.”
In only his third start in the majors, Wada cut through the Colorado lineup and allowed just one run and five hits. It was a far cry from his latest outing, when he lasted just four innings and gave up five runs in a loss to San Diego. The sole blemish on Wada’s performance came in the sixth, when the Rockies got three hits capped by Nolan Arenado’s RBI single.
“He executed pitches, got some big outs when he needed to and got out of traffic that developed late,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He did a nice job and gave us some innings.”
The 33-year-old Wada won 107 games over nine seasons in Japan. He signed a two-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles two seasons ago but injured his elbow soon after joining the club and underwent undergo Tommy John surgery in May 2012. He signed with the Cubs in December 2013.
“It’s the second time I pitched in Chicago, so it was a little more relaxed,” Wada said through an interpreter. “I’m happy about this first win.”
Pedro Strop worked out of a jam in the eighth inning and Hector Rondon worked a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 16 chances. Yohan Flande (0-3) struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings. Those were his career bests in his fifth start.
“Flande put us in position to win that game,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “We just couldn’t put together a big inning.”
Flande faced the minimum through three innings, but the Cubs got to the Rockies starter for two runs in the fourth. Emilio Bonifacio led off with a single, and Arismendy Alcantara doubled, which set up Rizzo’s RBI grounder and Justin Ruggiano’s sacrifice fly. Chicago added two more runs in the eighth against Nick Masset. Baker scored on an errant pickoff throw, and Rizzo singled for his 58th RBI this season.
The Rockies did, however, produce two phenomenal defensive plays. In the sixth, on a hard hit ball by Alcantara, Arenado dived to his right, gloved the two-hopper and made a quick throw from his knees to get the speedy Alcantara at first. In the eighth inning, with runners at the corners, shortstop Charlie Culberson made a diving stop up the middle and flipped the ball from his glove to second baseman D.J. LeMahieu, who then threw to first to complete the inning ending double play.
*Photo courtesy of Brian Kersey/Getty Images