When Jason Heyward ran into the wall in San Francisco in this game, it looked like the injury could be season-ending.
He missed three games. Later, Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow, who’s seen hundreds of games at AT&T Park, said it was the best catch he’d ever seen there.
This win made the Cubs’ record 29-11 and they led the N.L. Central by 6½ games.
It looked eerily familiar, except there was no collision.
Jason Heyward raced after a baseball flying to the deepest part of AT&T Park hit by the Giants' Denard Span, the first batter in the bottom of the first inning Friday night.
That's one of the best catches I've seen in a long time, but Heyward lay on the ground in obvious pain for several minutes. At first, it looked like a hip injury, but Heyward eventually got up and walked off under his own power, with Cubs training staff holding his left arm. That made me think he might have dislocated his shoulder, but here's what actually happened:
"There's some pain," he said a few hours after his spectacular grab on Denard Span's first-inning drive to deep center sent him crashing up against the wall. "Not sharp but a little more than dull. What happened was the lower rib-cage bone and the hip bone hit each other when I was pushed up against the wall."
Heyward will have an MRI performed on his right side Saturday to determine if there is any structural damage.
"Luckily, nothing is broken," he said. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow after the MRI."
The Cubs' depth was tested when Kyle Schwarber was injured the season's third game, but they went on their merry ways of winning. If Heyward is out for any significant length of time, the Cubs can probably make it -- it means Jorge Soler and Javier Baez will become everyday players and have to step up -- but that depth will be tested even further.
The Cubs went on a scoring spree just a few minutes after that, plating five runs in the second inning, with the big blow being this two-out, two-strike, three-run homer from Kris Bryant:
Anthony Rizzo singled after Bryant's homer, and that ended Jake Peavy's night. Peavy, who seemed visibly irritated at some ball-and-strike calls, threw 55 pitches to record five outs.
Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta was doing his usual thing, mowing down opposing hitters, and even drove in a run during that five-run inning. He later got tagged out on the bases, though I won't say that one was completely his fault; he had held up after Miguel Montero scored on a bases-loaded single by Tommy La Stella, while Dexter Fowler headed toward third base. The resulting mixup got Fowler to third, but Arrieta was out.
Arrieta completed seven strong innings, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out eight, helping guide the Cubs to an 8-1 win over the Giants, which snapped San Francisco's eight-game winning streak. It also ended a stretch of 13 games in which the Giants had allowed no more than four runs.
Jake's ERA, which stood at 1.29 entering the game, remained there, still the major leagues' best. His ERA+ leads the majors at a ridiculous 314, and he's already piled up 2.7 bWAR in one-quarter of a season. His W/L record improved to 8-0, and it was his 19th consecutive win dating back to last year, the fourth-longest such streak in major-league history. One more and Jake ties Roger Clemens for the third-longest streak.
Soler, who, as I noted, will have to step up, had a good night. He homered, went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, raising his BA to .200 for the first time since April 19, and made this leaping catch [VIDEO] on a Buster Posey drive with two men on and two out in the third inning. There's no doubt that Soler has talent; he showed it during the postseason last year. If he can get back to that level of performance, the Cubs will be able to weather any extended absence of Heyward.
Ben Zobrist added an eighth-inning homer off reliever George Kontos, his sixth long ball of the season, back-to-back with Soler's blast. Travis Wood and Clayton Richard finished up Arrieta's win with scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth.
Now, back to Heyward. It seems that at least a 15-day disabled list stint is in his future. That probably means the faster-than-expected return of Matt Szczur, who had two plate appearances in a rehab game for Triple-A Iowa Thursday, but didn't play Friday. The I-Cubs happen to be on the West Coast, too; they're playing this weekend in Tacoma, so Szczur is only a two-hour flight away. Let's hope the Heyward injury is nothing too serious.
The Cubs stayed 6½ games ahead of the Pirates in the N.L. Central with this win and still have not lost on consecutive days this year.