It’s noticeable, the Cubs don’t quit. After blowing a 4-2 lead in the sixth, and falling behind 8-5 in the 7th, the Cubs charged back, scoring four times over the final two innings to win 9-8. Trailing 8-6 in the ninth, the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs and Starlin Castro came through with his third hit of the evening to tie things up. Kris Bryant scored on a Welington Castillo ground out, and Hector Rondon shut the door, what an absolutely outstanding victory. With the win the Cubs have now won two games after trailing heading into the ninth, you know how many times that happened last year? Zero. Welcome to Chicago Cubs baseball, you should probably start watching.
At the Plate:
- Anthony Rizzo is an on base machine, he was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and he was hit by another pitch.
- Jorge Soler finished strong in this 0ne, he was 2-for-5 with a double, and two runs scored.
- Kris Bryant, just wow, he was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, two RBI’s, and one run scored.
- Starlin Castro is shutting a lot of people up, he was 3-for-5 with a dinger, four RBI’s, and a run scored. He’s hitting .352 on the season.
- Welington Castillo got a start tonight, and he made it count, he was 2-for-5 with a homer, double, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
On the Mound:
- Travis Wood got the start tonight, and was decent, he worked five innings, giving up three runs on four hits while walking two, and striking out five.
- Brian Schlitter continued his rough 2015, he worked two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs on three hits while walking one.
- Phil Coke got out of Schlitter’s trouble, he retired the last batter of the sixth.
- Jason Motte struggled tonight, he worked one inning, giving up three runs on two hits while walking one.
- Edwin Jackson was perfect tonight, and he picked up the win, he worked a scoreless inning while striking out one.
- Hector Rondon was just disgusting tonight, he worked a scoreless ninth for his third save of the season.
Kris Bryant with an RBI double.
It was a rough start for the Cubs tonight as Jake Arrieta got knocked around in the first, but escaped only giving up one run, then he shut it down. Arrieta retired the next sixteen hitters on his way to a stellar seven inning performance to pick up his second win of the season. He doesn’t get that win without the exploits of the Cubs future, and well, present, in the middle of the order. After a double by Soler, and a walk by Rizzo, Kris Bryant crushed a two-run double, and ended up scoring on the same play to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead en route to a 5-2 victory.
Note: A fan was hit in the back of the head by a Starlin Castro‘s line drive foul ball. She was behind the protective screen, but was resting on the screen and the ball really smoked her. The result was a 23 minute on field delay, the update is that she was conscious and thanking the people helping here into the ambulance. Hopefully she’s okay.
Kris Bryant‘s Little League Homer.
Kris Bryant RBI single.
At the Plate:
- Hip hip, Jorge! Soler was a beast in this one, he went 4-for-5 with a double, and two runs scored.
- Anthony Rizzo was all over the bases, per usual. Rizzo went 2-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored.
- Kris Bryant had a rough debut, he’s been everything advertised since, he was 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, three RBI’s, and a run scored.
- Starlin Castro is getting lost in the hype train, but he is having an outstanding 2015, he was 2-for-4 in this one, and his now hitting .327 on the season.
On the Mound:
- Jake Arrieta with some more hot fire tonight, he worked seven strong innings, he gave up one run on four hits while striking out seven.
- Pedro Strop was spotless as usual, he worked a scoreless inning while striking out two.
- Rosscup came on to protect a four run lead, something the Cubs couldn’t do on Saturday, and he did just fine. He worked an inning, giving up one run on one hit while striking out one.
After having eight of their first eleven games at home the time has come for the Cubs to hit the road, and face some stiff NL Central competition. Tonight’s game in Pittsburgh starts a seven game road trip that will see the Cubs battle the Pirates for four, then head to Cincinnati for three. The Pirates are playing solid baseball right now as they have won three straight games, and sit a half game behind the Cubs for second place in the Central. The Cubs are coming off a tough series loss to the Padres, their first of the season. All three games could have went the Cubs way, but a burnt out bullpen, short starts, and lack of clutch hitting came back to bite them.
- Monday, April 20, 2015 – 6:05 PM CST – CSN Chicago Plus (Channel Finder)
- Tuesday, April 21, 2015 – 6:05 PM CST – WGN 9 Chicago
- Wednesday, April 22, 2015 – 6:05 PM CST – CSN
- Thursday, April 23, 2015 – 11:35 AM CST – CSN, MLB Network
- Game One: Jake Arrieta (1-1, 1.98) vs. A.J. Burnett (0-1, 2.25)
- Game Two: Travis Wood (1-1, 2.31) vs. Francisco Liriano (0-1, 2.08)
- Game Three: Jason Hammel (1-0, 5.11) vs. Vance Worley (1-1, 5.84)
- Game Four: Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 6.10) vs. Jeff Locke (2-0, 1.93)
Who is Hot:
- Pirates: After a slow start, and a big new contract, Josh Harrison is starting to heat up at the plate. He is hitting .292 (7-for-24) over his last seven with a double, homer, and two RBI’s.
- Cubs: Anthony Rizzo was getting on base earlier in the year but wasn’t seeing too many hits dropping, that is changing. Rizzo is hitting .318 (7-for-22) over his last six games with a home run, three RBI’s, a double, and SIX walks.
Who is Not:
- Pirates: After a productive 2014, Jordy Mercer has come out of the gate struggling. Mercer is hitting just .118 (2-for-17) over his last seven games with only one walk, two strikeouts, and no runs scored.
- Cubs: Second base is an issue for the Cubs right now, as both Jonathan Herrera, and Arismendy Alcantara are scuffling. Herrera is hitting just .158 (3-for-19) over his last six games, while Alcantara comes in at a .143 (2-for-14) clip, with six strikeouts.
A popular narrative the last couple of years has the been the Cubs ability, or inability to take walks, or make contact. It was absolutely true, the Cubs were a team that would belt a dinger, but no one would be on base. When someone was on base, the Cubs just couldn’t make contact, it wasn’t hard to see why they were 26th in the Majors in runs scored last year. For the past few years the organization preached a “Cubs Way” that would see the team grind out at bats, make more contact, and be a general pain in the you know what for opposing pitchers. While it’s early, we are starting to see glimpses of what an offense built around the “Cubs Way” will look like.
The Cubs organization was definitely targeting guys this off-season that could help push the club in this new direction. What impresses me are the guys that were here last year have been so much better in their approach this year. Arismendy Alcantara is only hitting .091 on the season, but he has an OBP of .259, he’s walked five times already this year. We haven’t seen OBP numbers like this in what seems like forever, Chris Coghlan (.385), Jorge Soler (.382), Anthony Rizzo (.429), even Starlin Castro has contributed in this way (.364). These are the kind of numbers that turn solo home runs into two run shots to tie the game in the eighth, kind of like Soler on Monday Night. The importance of getting on base really can’t be understated, it really doesn’t matter how, just do it.
Let’s look at a comparison between 2014 and 2015, I know it’s a super small sample size, but the improvement in the numbers is striking.
Let’s extrapolate that out for a full 2015 season, the Cubs are on pace to walk 607 times, and strikeout 1,316 times. That would mean that the Cubs would have 165 more guys on base via the walk over the course of the season compared to last year. In regards to the strikeouts, the Cubs are on pace to strikeout 161 fewer times, that means those K’s turn into walks, or balls in play that the other team has to account for. You couple this kind of turnaround at the plate with a lineup that has some additional power in it (Kris Bryant), and the Cubs aren’t going to be 26th in the Majors in scoring for very long, and that should mean more victories on the Northside.
Jake Arrieta had his typical no hit stuff against the Reds once again, at least until the fourth inning. The Reds scored three times on five singles in the fourth inning en route to a 3-2 victory to even up the three game series. The Cubs didn’t exactly go quietly, that seems to be their thing this year. Welington Castillo smacked a pinch hit homer in the 8th inning to bring the Cubs to within one, but they couldn’t get any closer. The Cubs had two more guys on base in the eighth and the ninth, but couldn’t come up with a big hit, this time. Being able to come back in games is a nice thing to be able to do, you just don’t want to be doing it every night.
At the Plate:
- Welington Castillo didn’t start but probably had the best game, he was 1-for-1 with a pinch hit dinger, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
- Matt Szczur, also coming off the bench, had two plate appearances, and walked each time.
- Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, and Starlin Castro had the other hits, one each.
On the Mound:
- Jake Arrieta got the start, and was just fine except for that fateful fourth inning, he worked 6.2 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits while walking one, and striking out five.
- Zac Rosscup made his 2015 debut, he worked 1.1 scoreless innings, he walked one, and struck out two.
- Pedro Strop worked a scoreless inning to give the Cubs a chance in the ninth, he struck out one in the process.
How about those Cubs? I’m not going to lie, I’m excited, sure it’s only April, I don’t care, first place. Jon Lester was off again tonight, but the bullpen picked him up and gave the club a chance to comeback. That’s exactly what the Cubs did, they came back from two separate three run deficits to win 7-6 thanks for a walk-off single by Arismendy Alcantara. The game doesn’t get there without Jorge Soler who jacked a pair of two-run homers, what a thrilling night.
At the Plate:
- Anthony Rizzo was locked in tonight, he was 2-for-3 with two walks, and two runs scored.
- Jorge Soler was outstanding tonight, he went 3-for-5 with two dingers, four RBI’s, and three runs scored. He also had a tasty outfield assist.
- Chris Coghlan continued his torrid start to the season, he went 3-for-4 with a home run, a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored.
On the Mound:
- Jon Lester got the start and struggled, he worked six innings, giving up six runs on ten hits while striking out four.
- Brian Schlitter, Jason Motte, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon all tossed scoreless innings with Rondon picking up the win.
Alcantara wins it!
Soler with an unreal throw.
Soler ties it in the 8th with a bomb!
Soler’s first two-run shot.
I’m so glad the Cubs didn’t cancel the season after Sunday, because that was fun. It was a pitchers day at Wrigley, but I’m not sure if 80 degrees and sun would have mattered as Jake Arrieta, and Lance Lynn were brilliant. Luckily for the Cubs, Arrieta was better, but not by much. Both guys were dealing, and the winning run came as a result of a hit batter, and a wild throw on a pick-off, go figure. After Rizzo was hit by a pitch in the 7th, and advanced to second on said wild pick-off, Starlin Castro delivered the game winning single, it was a super lazy single though…
Back to Arrieta, early on he didn’t have his best stuff as he had to battle through trouble in the first and third inning before settling into a groove. Arrieta worked seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits while walking three, and striking out seven en route to his first win of the season. For the second straight game the Cubs bullpen displayed just how dangerous they could be, dangerous in a good way, not a Carlos Marmol way. Phil Coke, Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon combined to pitch the last two innings with Rondon picking up his first save of the season.