The Cubs got swept by the Cardinals after sweeping the Pirates, then lost the first game of a series in Miami for their first four-game losing streak of 2016.
Thus this win was welcome. The Cubs improved to 48-24 and led the N.L. Central by 10 games after this win.
I'll have some fun facts about the Cubs' 5-4 win over the Marlins later in this recap, but obviously the most important thing is the win and snapping the team's four-game losing streak, the longest so far this year.
Before I get to the details, how about some more amazing defense from Javier Baez?
Not only did he catch that ball, he came out of the stands pretty much completely unscathed. Later in that fourth inning, Baez nearly made another spectacular catch of a foul ball reaching over a dugout railing. That one landed just out of his grasp.
That happened after a busy first inning which saw the Cubs pound Marlins starter Tom Koehler all over the yard. Four runs scored, highlighted by this towering home run by Kris Bryant:
Willson Contreras added a two-run blast in that inning. He's already hit three home runs in just seven major-league games. He joins several of his teammates in accomplishing that:
Current #Cubs who hit 3 HR through 7 career games.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 24, 2016
Javier Baez, Jorge Soler & Willson Contreras (with Cubs)
Jason Heyward (with Braves)
So this looked like an easy win, right? Uh... not so fast. Addison Russell booted the first play of the game, a seemingly routine ground ball. That helped lead to four runs, because the next two hitters were out. Kyle Hendricks lost command after that, walking the bases loaded. And then...
Just like that, game tied. And Hendricks wound up throwing 17 pitches after the third batter of the inning (who should have been the third out), which was one of the reasons he went only five innings (total 105 pitches). He issued two more walks, the second time this season (and in his career) he had allowed four walks.
Here are some fun facts (made more fun because the Cubs won the game) about Hendricks' weird outing in which he allowed four unearned runs on just one hit (Justin Bour's slam):
Tonight was the first time in #Cubs history they allowed a first inning grand slam and no other runs in the rest of the game.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 25, 2016
#Cubs win a game after allowing 1st inning grand slam for first time since— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 25, 2016
6/28/1974 (gm1) at Parc Jarry
Kyle Hendricks: from 1913-present, this is the only start by a #Cubs pitcher of at least 5 innings with 4+ Runs and no more than 1 hit.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 25, 2016
Then it was up to the bullpen to hang on while the Cubs tried to break the tie. And Trevor Cahill, Travis Wood and Hector Rondon (13th save) did their jobs: four innings, one hit, one walk, no runs, three strikeouts. Rondon was summoned with two out in the eighth, and completed his four-out save with an efficient 17 pitches, so he should be available tonight.
Meanwhile, Contreras yet again provided some heroics. In the seventh, Bryant walked and Ben Zobrist was hit by a pitch. Contreras then lofted a single into right field to score Bryant with what turned out to be the winning run:
Unfortunately, Zobrist, who stayed in the game on base, eventually had to leave. He'll apparently miss at least one game:
X-rays were negative of Zobrist's left ankle. He has a bruise, and is not expected to play Saturday. #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 25, 2016
Anthony Rizzo, who missed his second consecutive game with back trouble, was available to pinch-hit Friday and will likely be back in the lineup Saturday. Honestly, the Cubs can't afford any more injuries.
But Contreras has been a revelation. It's possible he'll get a start in the outfield sometime soon:
#Cubs Maddon wasn't sure where @noslliw19 will play Sat, but he'll be in the lineup. Contreras did take fly balls in OF today— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 25, 2016
In any case, it's good to see everyone contributing, and the Cubs winning a game with solid bullpen work and timely hitting. Also, the Cubs have had trouble with one-run games this year, so it's nice to see them hang on for that kind of win. They're just 10-11 in one-run affairs this season, but continue to have a run differential far bigger than any other team at +163 (the next closest is the Red Sox, +79). Here's more on that:
#MLB Teams with 163+ run diff after 72 games since 1903--like the #Cubs pic.twitter.com/8vU3ZdMUrY— Scott Lindholm (@ScottLindholm) June 25, 2016
That's good company, I'd say. FWIW, about the two Giants teams listed there who didn't win the WS? There wasn't one in 1904, and the Giants blew a 10th-inning lead in Game 7 in 1912.
Cubs walk watch: four in Friday night's win bring the season total to 309 (4.29 per game). Pace: 695.