The date of the month was the 17th. The Cubs scored 17 runs. And Kris Bryant, No. 17, hit his first big-league grand slam. OK, so it was off a position player. Still.
This was also Kyle Schwarber's first big-league start, and he made the most of it, going 4-for-5 in front of quite a few family members who came to Cleveland for the game.
The Cubs crushed the Indians 17-0 Wednesday night in Cleveland.
Take a look at that sentence again, savor it, enjoy it, remember where you were when you experienced this game, because it's something that doesn't come around very often.
First, as I tweeted last night:
1969. Well now, that was a significant year in team history, wasn't it. Here's the boxscore from that 1969 blowout win. Ernie Banks led the way that afternoon at Wrigley Field with two homers and seven RBI.
The Cubs have won a game by 17 or more runs nine other times in club history, 11 in all including the 1969 game and Wednesday night. Here are the other nine games:
- May 5, 2001, 20-1 over the Dodgers
- August 18, 1995, 26-7 over the Rockies
- May 17, 1977, 23-6 over the Padres
- May 20, 1967, 20-3 over the Dodgers
- July 3, 1945, 24-2 over the Braves
- May 5, 1938, 21-2 over the Phillies
- April 23, 1926, 18-1 over the Reds
- June 11, 1911, 20-2 over the Braves (no boxscore link available)
- June 7, 1906, 19-0 over the Giants (no boxscore link available)
One thing to note about that list: all 10 of the previous games were won by Cubs teams that wound up with winning records, and three of those teams won N.L. pennants. Let's hope the 2015 team joins that list, at the very least becoming a team that finishes over .500.
Wednesday night's demolition of the Tribe is certainly a game Kyle Schwarber will remember forever, not just for the score but for the fact that he had a memorable debut as a starting player in the big leagues. Installed at DH, where he'll be for the rest of this road trip, Schwarber tripled (!) in his first at-bat (he had only three triples in 459 minor-league at-bats) and singled three times, going 4-for-5 overall with three runs scored and two driven in. That's a good week for a lot of players. Schwarber had a large contingent of friends and family at the game who were shown often on the game telecast.
But that wasn't all for a Cubs offense that smashed out 18 hits and drew five walks. Four Cubs homered: Anthony Rizzo, his 12th, breaking an 0-for-20 drought; Addison Russell, his fifth; Chris Denorfia, his first as a Cub; and Kris Bryant, also breaking a dry spell, this one a 17-game homer drought. Bryant's blast was his first career grand slam, and it completed the scoring.
Let's put a bit of an "asterisk" of sorts on Bryant's homer, as it came off David Murphy, who's normally an outfielder. He was the second position player (Ryan Raburn the other) who threw the ninth inning for Terry Francona's beleaguered pitching staff. I can't remember ever seeing that happen before, a position player on the mound relieved by another position player. The Cubs scored seven runs off the pair of outfielders, capped by Bryant's slam. All seven of the ninth-inning runs were unearned because Cleveland's rookie shortstop Francisco Lindor, who appeared to have David Ross' popup caught to end the inning, simply let it drop a foot or so away from him for an error.
The Cubs had raced out to a 6-0 second-inning lead off Shaun Marcum. Schwarber's triple drove in Chris Coghlan, who had singled. Denorfia doubled in Schwarber, then scored on Russell's homer. After Dexter Fowler singled, Rizzo homered to complete that scoring. The Cubs added four more in the third inning, three of them on Denorfia's homer, and the game was essentially over at that point.
It really didn't matter how well Tsuyoshi Wada pitched with that big a lead, but he was excellent, taking the pressure off management to wonder what to do with his rotation spot, at least for now. Wada had good velocity, command and location and completed seven shutout innings, throwing 107 pitches (69 strikes). It's just the second time in his big-league career that Wada has gone seven innings, and that's the most pitches he's thrown in any start with the Cubs. It was a glimpse at what might be a solid future for him.
Yoervis Medina, the newest Cub, was called on to throw the final two innings, which he did in fine fashion, inducing five groundouts in the six outs he recorded. Not only that, but by throwing two innings (19 pitches), he saved the rest of the pen. Nicely done.
The Cubs also curiously matched what they did last week in Detroit -- losing 6-0, then winning a game in a blowout. They followed those two games by taking three of the next four, and I'd certainly like to see that repeated. The club began the game with an exactly even run differential (250 runs scored and allowed), so they're now at +17, which gained them three games in the Pythagorean projection. They're now 35-28 overall, two wins over the Pythagorean projection of 33-30.
That one was great fun. After so many close games and one-run affairs this year, it's nice to have an absolute blowout. Every Cub who played -- including Mike Baxter, who gave Rizzo a breather -- got at least one hit and scored one run. Bryant and Denorfia led the RBI parade with four each and Coghlan and Schwarber had the evening's run lead with three apiece.
Baseball rarely rests during the summer, and the Cubs and Indians will go at it again tonight in Cleveland, with Jason Hammel facing the Tribe's Danny Salazar.