Chicago needed a baseball game to focus on this evening, as the collective breath-holding waiting on news to break regarding Kyle Schwarber’s left knee ended with the most painful of exhalations. Take heart, friends, as my colleague Zack Moser said last night before we even understood the severity of the injury, this team is specifically built to withstand injuries and overcome adversity. War Bear will be greatly missed, but the goal remains the same.

Top Play (WPA): Following Paul Goldschmidt singling home Jean Segura to tie the game in the eighth (more on that in a moment), Brad Ziegler threw a perfect ninth inning to set the stage for the Diamondbacks winning rally. After Travis Wood retired David Peralta to lead off the inning, Trevor Cahill came on in relief and allowed a single through the left side by former Cub Welington Castillo. Cahill then induced a grounder that would have represented a tailor-made double play, but pinch-runner Chris Owings was moving with the pitch which allowed him to avoid the twin-killing. The next batter was Yasmany Tomas, who laced a single directly at inexperienced left-fielder Jorge Soler, who tentatively charged the ball on what appeared would be a close play at the plate. Soler’s throw ended up being off line, and the speedy Owings easily scored the winning run (+.391).

Bottom Play (WPA): While the top play came with the very last batter of the game, the bottom play improbably transpired in the first inning. Diamondbacks leadoff hitter Segura represented Cubs starter Jason Hammel’s first batter faced of the season, and he promptly greeted him by crushing the ball 420 feet to dead center field. Luckily for Hammel, Chase Field has a cavernous outfield and a monstrous wall in center, which kept Segura’s blast in the ballpark. Socrates Brito followed with an infield single, bringing up Goldschmidt with two on and nobody out. After retiring the dangerous slugger on a fly out to Fowler in center, Hammel induced David Peralta to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the early threat (-.113).

Key Moment: There were a few key moments in this one. In the third, Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray couldn’t find the plate, walking four of the first five batters, including Jason Heyward to force in the first run of the game. After Ben Zobrist knocked in the second run on a fielders choice, Ray retired Anthony Rizzo on a lazy fly out to right, stranding two runners and limiting the damage. The Cubs wouldn’t score again the rest of the evening.

The fifth inning saw the Cubs threaten again, as Dexter Fowler continued his torrid start by doubling down the right field line to lead off the inning. Heyward then followed with a broken-bat single to right, but Fowler was held up at third with no one out. Zobrist struck out after swinging through two fastballs for the first out, which led to this wacky play to end the inning:

Segura led off the sixth inning with a single and promptly stole second before advancing to third on a fly out, setting the stage for Goldschmidt to cut the 2-0 Cubs lead in half with an RBI single. Segura and Goldy teamed up again in the eighth, when Segura doubled off Pedro Strop to collect his third hit of the night, and Goldschmidt knocked him in two batters later with a clutch single up the middle to tie the game.

Trend to Watch: And we’re walking, and walking, keep walking. After collecting 10 walks last night (against just five strikeouts), the Cubs added another four and a hit-by-pitch tonight. Leading the way is Addison Russell, adding two more free passes this evening, giving him four in four games this season. The patient approach is pervasive throughout the entire lineup, and you can expect the continued working of deep counts to frustrate opposing pitchers all season long.

Much was made about the inability of Cubs’ starting pitchers to pitch through the sixth inning last season, but with Hammel’s solid six-inning, one-run effort tonight, each of the Cubs’ first four starters have achieved this mark. We need several turns through the rotation to gain truly valuable data, but so far, so good.

The Cubs have played excellent defense early this season, and tonight was no exception with Heyward and Rizzo each making excellent defensive plays. Heyward—long known for his outstanding glove work—has been especially impressive in the early going, and Cubs fans should appreciate watching his professional effort in right field all season long.

Coming Next: The Cubs roll into the season’s first weekend 3-1, having outscored opponents 31-10 thus far. Kyle Hendricks (2015: 3.95 ERA, 92 cFIP, 3.88 DRA) will make his first start on Saturday, rounding out what was an impressive first turn through the rotation. He draws a challenging first assignment, facing a talented Diamondbacks offense in a hitters environment. And it gets tougher: Zack Greinke (2015: 1.55, 85, 2.17) will be taking the mound on the other side, and he’ll be looking for redemption after giving up three home runs and seven earned runs in his Opening Day start against Colorado.

You’ll see Miguel Montero back behind the plate to catch Hendricks, but questions persist at other positions in the wake of Schwarber’s injury. Might Tommy La Stella start at third base against the tough righty Greinke, with Bryant starting in left field? Or perhaps Zobrist shifts to left, with La Stella manning second. Of course, it’s always possible Joe Maddon elects to simply continue giving Jorge Soler opportunities to gain experience in left, despite the righty-on-righty matchup.

Take note of the earlier game time—this one will be appearing at 7:10 CT on Comcast. Onward.

Lead photo courtesy Joe Camporeale—USA Today Sports

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4 comments on “GAME 4 RECAP: DIAMONDBACKS 3 CUBS 2”


Onward is a good descriptor. I can’t remember such a gut-wrenching blow so early in the season, although I’m sure there rare 14 Mark Prior injuries I’m forgetting about.

Obviously this situation means that Soler’s role becomes critical, but I wonder if the key in all this could be Baez when he returns…adds a legit bona fide glove at third if the Cubs want to put Bryant in left.

The other thought I have is, without being panicky based on one freak play, if the Cubs are more likely to use Zobrist in left to keep Bryant at the relatively injury-safer position of third base. PANIC!

Definitely agree that Baez changes things, Rob. Means Zobrist, Bryant and Baez can all get reps in the outfield if there is a particularly tough matchup for Soler.

I don’t think Maddon will manage any differently in light of the injury, no.


If Soler continues to look completely lost at the plate, Joe is going to most definitely give Szczur a long look out in left. You at least know you’re getting a well above average glove out there with him, and his bat has been above average since spring training.

I do hope Soler can turn it around and I have always believed he would do it, but his at bats are wearing down my faith.

Looks like Jorge may be coming around a bit. Szczur is a nice backup plan, but Baez being back really changes this equation as well.

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