Even though their elevations above sea level differ by around 4,600 feet, after three home runs in the first inning one would assume tonight was another Coors Field slugfest.
Instead, tonight’s 3-1 loss was the first loss in almost a week for the Cubs, after winning their first five games this homestand.
What You Need to Know: Both starting pitchers knew with the wind blowing out tonight that keeping the ball on the ground would be key to winning. Easier said than done: after facing two batters Kyle Hendricks had given up two home runs. Then when it was Rockies’ starter Jon Gray’s turn to take the mound, it took just one pitch to give up a solo home run to leadoff hitter Anthony Rizzo.
After a rocky first inning both pitchers settled down and kept bats quiet for most of the game. A solo homer from Nolan Arenado would be the only other run scored in the game.
Next Level: A lot has changed over the course of the Cubs’ five-game win streak. They moved up in the NL Central standings from fourth to first, Chicago’s miserable winter weather finally gave way to beautiful 80 degree temperatures, and now Anthony Rizzo is a leadoff hitter.
Ok, so while maybe the first two of three will remain consistently true throughout the season, Rizzo leading off was the most exciting change.
No one on the Cubs roster has had a tougher start to the year than Rizzo, after a DL stint in early April he still has not found a way to up his production. He has a slash line of .149/.259/.189 and a WARP of -0.5.
With Baez, Contreras and Almora all getting the night off, it was no surprise to see Joe Maddon mix things up and bump Rizzo to the top of the order tonight.
Cubs fans will be hoping that tonight’s leadoff home run from Rizzo will be a turning point in his season.
Top WPA Play: In the seventh inning, Kyle Schwarber hit a ball towards the corner in right field, and managed to leg out a triple. A bad throw to third base tempted Schwarber to head home, but he wisely remained at third, where he, unfortunately, was ultimately stranded (+.099).
Botton WPA Play: Nolan Arenado’s fourth-inning solo home run gave the Rockies an additional insurance run to play with (-.105).
Up Next: Cubs will have their last regular season meeting with the Rockies. Yu Darvish will attempt to end the homestand on a positive note.
Lead photo courtesy Jim Young—USA Today Sports