The Cubs still aren't hitting with runners in scoring position -- 3-for-13 Saturday night and 5-for-38 overall in their first four games -- but that doesn't matter so much when you are hitting baseballs over the outfield walls.
No home runs had come off Cubs bats in their first three games, but they made up for that deficit by slamming three of them Saturday night in a 9-5 win over the Rockies that had that typical "Coors Field game" feel to it. The Cubs victory handed Colorado their first loss of the season.
If you had Chris Coghlan in the "Who'll hit the first Cubs HR of 2015?" pool, you win. Coghlan's blast in the third inning was followed back-to-back with one from Mike Olt. Starlin Castro added one in the fifth, all three off Kyle Kendrick.
Dexter Fowler, who played several seasons in Colorado, took advantage of a familiar place to hit two triples. This is a rarer feat than you might think. It has happened 75 times in Cubs history (since 1914, as far as baseball-reference's search function goes back) and only seven times since 1994. The team record for triples in a game is three, held by Shawon Dunston (1990), Ernie Banks (1966) and Charlie Hollocher (1922). Fowler was a good triples hitter his first few seasons, leading the major leagues with 14 in 2010, but he hit just four last year. Perhaps this is a good sign for Fowler, who also walked twice.
The Cubs' 12-hit attack included three hits from Castro and a pair from pitcher Jason Hammel, who had the first hits from any Cubs pitcher batting in the eighth spot. Hammel did all right on the mound, too. He struggled at times and gave up three runs in the first three innings, but managed to hang on through six innings to post a "quality start," for the limited value of that statistic. Hammel gave up eight hits but didn't walk anyone so I think you'd have to view this outing as a success.
Matt Szczur, who did not start the game but came in for Coghlan, added a double and Jorge Soler had a pair of singles and drove in two runs. Soler also nearly threw out a runner at third base on what appeared to be a normal first-to-third advance on a single to right. Eventually Soler is going to start throwing runners out on plays like this and people will learn not to test his arm. I agree with Len Kasper's take:
Man I love watching Jorge Soler throw. Huge arm but as importantly, accurate.— Len Kasper (@LenKasper) April 12, 2015
The only discordant note from this one was Olt getting hit in the hand or wrist (wasn't clear which) with a pitch by Adam Ottavino in the eighth inning. Olt fell to his knees in obvious pain and had to leave the game. Fortunately:
Last year, the Cubs did not win a series until May, and didn't even have a chance to win one until the 20th game of the season (that was the series against the Diamondbacks at Wrigley, when they won the first two games but wound up with a split). Sunday, the Cubs will have a chance for their first series win of 2015 as Kyle Hendricks takes the mound against Jordan Lyles. The game preview will post at 1 p.m. CT. Russ La Croix' Heroes & Goats from Saturday's game will be along at 9 a.m. CT.