Three long rain delays in this game meant I didn’t get home to write this recap till well after 6 p.m., for a 1:20 p.m. start. It was all worth it, though, for this win over the Phillies.
The Cubs ended the day at 32-14, with a 4½-game lead in the N.L. Central.
Four minutes after the second rain delay ended and play resumed in the ninth inning, Hector Rondon induced Freddy Galvis to hit into a game-ending double play, completing the Cubs' 6-2 homestand-opening win over the Phillies. Perhaps 3,000 or so of the original near-full house of 38,941 stuck around to watch the end.
I was one of those few who sat through three fairly heavy rainfalls, the second of which caused a delay of nearly an hour in the top of the seventh.
The first rain, which began not long after the bottom of the first inning started, didn't seem to bother the Cubs, who had obviously been told it would pass through quickly (it did; rained hard for maybe 10 minutes). They scored a run while it was raining quite hard in the bottom of the first inning on a double by the amazing Ben Zobrist, who had two more hits Friday, and an RBI single by Jorge Soler.
Then the sun came out, and though the Phillies tied the game in the third in part thanks to an error you'll almost never see Dexter Fowler make -- he dropped what looked like an easy fly ball -- the Cubs brought out the big lumber in the fourth. Soler, first:
You can't see it on that video, but Soler's ball hit about a third of the way up on the left-field video board, and it likely would have landed across the street if allowed to continue its trajectory. Good for Soler, who was 2-for-4 and hit the ball very well today. Hopefully, his bat stays hot with the weather now summerlike.
After Addison Russell walked and Javier Baez singled, it was David Ross' turn:
That was the 100th homer of Ross' career and he took a well-deserved curtain call. Ross is having a fine season, and with his fourth homer of the season he moves into a tie for 11th-most homers among all major-league catchers this year. Coming into this game, Ross had already produced 1.2 bWAR this season, and with the three-run shot that could even go up, a bit. And then there's this:
In addition to that, and I'm not sure you can tell from the video, Ross' homer scraped the bottom of the new Nuveen sign behind my section in left field. Watching it, I could see the ball slightly change direction as it passed the sign on the way to Waveland.
And this was a nice postgame gesture for Grandpa Rossy:
#Cubs Lester presented Ross with bottle of champagne and Maddon gave him bottle of wine after hitting HR No. 100— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 27, 2016
He's certainly become a fan favorite:
Fans have been cheering Ross when he warms up, saying 'Hit a homer, grandpa.' Says: "Nobody knows my first name any more" #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 27, 2016
Kris Bryant finished the Cubs' homer barrage with this colossal homer that made Waveland Avenue:
That made the score 6-1 and the game was actually moving along fairly quickly until the second downpour of the afternoon caused a delay with one out and Odubel Herrera on second base with a double. Jon Lester, who threw six strong innings, was probably on a short leash in the seventh, and Joe Maddon summoned Pedro Strop with the rain looming. Strop, who normally wouldn't enter a game in that situation, threw only one pitch before the deluge. 56 minutes later, Trevor Cahill entered and gave up a pair of hits, giving the Phillies their second run. He got out of the eighth inning with a double play and likely would have finished up if not for the third round of rain for the afternoon.
I will say that the game might have ended before that third rainfall if Phillies reliever Colton Murray hadn't wasted what seemed to be a tremendous amount of time throwing to first base after Matt Szczur led off the bottom of the eighth with a single. Two throws over while Russell was batting and another one with two out and Ross at the plate seemed like a waste of time; Szczur wasn't likely going anywhere, not with a four-run lead and (presumably) the knowledge that more rain was on the way. That was a minor blip on the way to a satisfying victory, though.
This was the kind of game we got used to seeing for the first five weeks of the season -- the Cubs getting strong starting pitching, scoring early, and then bludgeoning the opponent into submission. It was the Cubs' eighth game of the year with at least three home runs, and the three longballs gave the Cubs 55 for the season, putting them into a fourth-place tie with the Nationals in the N.L. team homer category.
Also, there's this:
Over the last 100 years, no Cubs player has hit more home runs within their first 200 games than Kris Bryant pic.twitter.com/nKV0UxNj0n— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 27, 2016
Obviously, that's not just over the last 100 years -- it's in all of franchise history. Pretty impressive company Bryant is keeping. That was a fun afternoon at the ballyard, if a bit soggy.