Tsuyoshi Wada finally got to show the Baltimore Orioles what he could do in the big leagues, but it wasn't the outcome the first-place O's had in mind.
Wada left Japan to sign with Baltimore before the 2012 season, but underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after and never found his way up to the big-league club in his two years in the organization.
Sunday, he made his eighth career big-league start — in a Cubs uniform — tossing a gem to beat his former team 2-1 in front of 32,774 fans at Wrigley Field. That completed a three-game sweep for the Cubs, who limited the AL East-leading Orioles offense to just four runs in the weekend series.
"I knew a lot of the players on their team," Wada said through a translator. "I feel like I let people down not being able to be a factor on the team [in Baltimore]. I tried to be the player that they thought they acquired at first, so I tried to hopefully prove that the player they felt they got was what I did today."
Wada took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Baltimore first baseman Steve Pearce hit one to Waveland Ave. The 33-year-old lefty finished with a career-high eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings, allowing just the one hit and one walk to notch his fourth victory. He also recorded his first MLB hit - an infield single in the third inning.
"He's been getting better and better every outing," Cubs catcher Welington Castillo said. "He's been working really hard with [pitching coach Chris Bosio] in bullpen sessions, so I think that work has paid off."
Wada lowered his ERA to 2.56 and WHIP to 1.05 and has 41 strikeouts in 45.2 innings in the majors. He was 10-6 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 19 games (18 starts) with Triple-A Iowa earlier in the year.
Is he an option for the Cubs' rotation in 2015 and beyond? He is under team control through the 2019 season.
"That's for the team to say," Wada said. "Right now, my focus is for one game at a time and hopefully I can keep the results going like I did today.
"I know nothing's easy and I'm not taking anything for granted."
Cubs manager Rick Renteria doesn't like to talk about the future, but did admit that Wada is doing what he can to be in the conversation for next year.
"I will simply say that right now, he's pitching very, very well," Renteria said. "There are decisions that have to be made. He's certainly putting himself in a good position."
Neil Ramirez and Pedro Strop (picking up his second hold of the weekend against his former team) kept the game intact for Hector Rondon to collect his 21st save.
Arismendy Alcantara put the Cubs on the board in the fifth with a solo homer into the basket in right-center. Anthony Rizzo drove home Chris Coghlan with a double in the sixth to close out the scoring for Chicago.
The three-game sweep was a nice way to wrap up a wild homestand that featured nine-and-a-half hours of rain delays.
"We've been playing really good defense ... and we've been able to get some timely hitting," Renteria said. "All in all, just a really clean series."