In the spirit of Tuesday’s opening paragraph, it’s only fitting that I again put on my social media wizard’s cap and pitch this gem to @cubs…
I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP! I got a hit with RISP!
As you know, there have been two kinds of Cubs games so far this season: scoring bunches of runs or none at all. It’s a very frustrating thing to watch over the course of a season. But there’s one part that tends to get overlooked:
Bunches of Runs Day is pretty damn sweet.
It was how the Cubs scored that stood out this afternoon. A two-run first and four-run second were keyed by a relentless assault of good contact, line drives, and two-out hitting with runners in scoring position. It happened so often that before the bottom of the second had finished, I’d already purchased tonygwynnlives.com.
Kris Bryant opened the scoring with an RBI liner off of Jedd Gyorko’s glove. Kyle Schwarber grounded a two-out RBI up the middle just after Jim Deshaies proclaimed “He’s not hitting for average.”
Unfortunately, the WLS cameras did not capture the phrase that Schwarber almost certainly yelled toward the Wrigley Field press box.
It was like all the obnoxious numbers the Cubs had put up in terms of BABIP and average with runners in scoring position were determined to even out in one afternoon. In the second, Albert Almora drove in Jason Heyward by shattering his bat and putting a ball in play that just glanced off of Jose Martinez’s glove. Javy Báez then hit another pitch in the direction of second base.
Which might be an even better place to guarantee a hit against the Cardinals than the left-field bleachers. It’s time to start calling Matt Carpenter DMV. Because he just doesn’t move.
Bryant drove in Almora with a sac fly to the wall in left center and then Anthony Rizzo and Schwarber added two more RBI singles. There were so many Mark Grace impressions on the field today that the Cubs have officially replaced the party room with a vending machine stocked with Winston Unfiltereds.
It got to the point where I wondered what Cardinals started Luke Weaver had done to offend the BABIP gods. Until I saw his goatee. Weaver looks like the only pitcher in baseball who finishes every mound conference with Yadier Molina by quoting from Ulysses.
All was smooth sailing for the first six innings. Jon Lester stubborned his way to seven strikeouts against only one walk and didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning. It was 8-1 Cubs going into the top of the seventh and Joe Maddon decided to bring in Eddie Butler in the hopes of resting the rest of the bullpen going into Coors Field.
Butler walked Martinez to lead off the inning. And when that happens with a seven run lead, you wish that a manager would be allowed to say “Oh, OK. My guy clearly doesn’t want to pitch today. I’d like another, please.”
After a couple well-placed hits loaded the bases and evened up the game’s karma, Butler walked Paul DeJong to drive in the first run, and that was enough for Maddon. The skipper went to Steve Cishek, who proceeded to hit Kolten Wong with a pitch near the shoulder, making it 8-3, still with nobody out.
Up next was Dexter Fowler who grounded one to the hole at short. Addison Russell made a nice play on it and got a force at second. But Báez attempted to get a spectacular double play and threw a scud past Rizzo, allowing another run to score to make it 8-5.
Thankfully, Cishek, Carl Edwards, and Brandon Morrow stepped up from there and did the kind of great work that has been the trademark of the bullpen thus far.
Top Play (WPA): The Schwarber first inning RBI single (+.097). It was the first of several at bats where our favorite not-as-large adult son hit the ball where it was pitched. Even the outs he made were nice pieces of hitting. Today was a day that answered the question: What if Chris Farley lived to play the lead in The Rod Carew Story?
Bottom Play (WPA): The Cardinals took the lead in the first when Harrison Bader was hit by a pitch, stole second, went to third on a throwing error, somehow didn’t get doubled off on a lineout when Baez bounced a throw past Bryant, and scored on a wild pitch (-.073).
Until the seventh, you could argue that the Cubs put more effort into giving the Cardinals a run than every hitter in their lineup combined.
Up Next: On to Colorado where Kyle Hendricks faces Jonathan Gray. If you’ve ever wanted to see the pitching equivalent of The Professor versus The Ultimate Frisbee Major, this game should be a treat.
Lead photo courtesy Matt Marton—USA Today Sports