What You Need To Know:
The Cubs’ eternal quest to rise (and stay) above .500 started with a disconcerting bang when Rockies pitcher German Marquez hit Kris Bryant in the head, forcing Bryant to leave the game with “a laceration” caused by his sunglasses. After most of the Cubs’s hitting coaching staff were ejected, the offense promptly went on a two-out hit parade, scoring three runs. Whether that was in honor of Kris Bryant, or in honor of their inconsistency, you can be the judge.
The Javy Báez RBI machine remains well-oiled, as does the Albert Almora highlight reel machine. And Willson Contreras threw out Nolan Arenado at home plate to end the game after a Brandon Morrow wild pitch.
Other than that, Coors Field did what Coors Field does.
It’s getting harder and harder to imagine a Cubs lineup without Almora and Baez at the top. Batting leadoff, Almora is hitting .378/.425/.486. Meanwhile, Baez is sporting a line of .428/.428/.950 while batting second. No doubt a small sample size, but they are creating a dynamic look to the offense that has been absent for some time. The sunny disposition could shift if Baez were to regress or drop into a slump, but until that happens, there’s no chance this isn’t the long-, long-, long-awaited answer to the top of the Cubs lineup post-Dexter Fowler.
Man, Kyle Schwarber looks good at the plate. Not only does he have his average hovering around .300, but he’s coupling it with a tiny 13.5% soft contact rate, and is pulling the ball just 38% of the time—a marketable improvement from his 45% career mark. I’m not sure he’s going to fulfill the MVP/Gold Glover hyperbole that has at times surrounded his weight loss, but the improvement is apparent, and endlessly encouraging as it relates to the length of the Cubs lineup.
The fifth inning is ruining the Cubs in the early going. Entering today’s game (where Quintana gave up two more runs), Cubs pitching has a collective ERA of 11.50 (!!) in the fifth inning. Maybe that’s correlating to the third time through the batting order, maybe it’s just some coincidental bad luck, but good grief.
Top WPA Play:
Tommy La Stella’s RBI-single in the bottom of the first started the Cubs’ early barrage of runs, adding on so steadily throughout that something as harmless as an RBI-single takes the prize. In a game that featured 16 runs, go figure (.088).
Bottom WPA Play:
David Dahl’s RBI-single (a second run scored on Carl Edwards’ throwing error) in the seventh cut the Rockies’ deficit to 9-7. Of all the offensive absurdity that transpires at Coors Field, it seems only fitting that a dribbler to the pitcher would cause so much damage (-.121).
After a rare non-weather-related off day, the Cubs will return east to play a two-game series with Cleveland at Progressive Field. Tyler Chatwood will also try and locate the strike zone.
Lead photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing—USA Today Sports