The Braves hit two home runs Friday night, their first team multihomer game of 2016.
Here's my favorite Cubs homer stat of the day:
One of those three lefthanded homers was hit by Jason Heyward [VIDEO]. That ball was crushed; Heyward put a really good swing on it and he also singled and had a hustle double in the ninth inning. There have been pretty good signs that Heyward is coming out of his season-long slump. It had to be particularly gratifying for Heyward to hit that one, not only in the park he called home for five seasons, but in his hometown.
Anthony Rizzo also homered, one day after missing a game with back problems; he showed no signs of any issues in this one. Miguel Montero slammed this three-run shot [VIDEO] in the fourth inning. At the time that gave the Cubs some real breathing room at 5-0. Kris Bryant finished the homer barrage with this two-run laser beam [VIDEO] in the fifth inning.
It was the fourth time this year that the Cubs have hit four or more homers in a game, and everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit, including Jake Arrieta, who singled twice and raised his batting average to .276, not that he needs to add hitting prowess to his remarkable pitching. Also:
2nd time this season all 9 #Cubs starters had at least one hit (also May 13 vs PIT)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 11, 2016
Speaking of Jake's pitching, it got back on track in this one. He threw seven strong innings, and though his strikeouts were way down from his last outing (only three, compared to 12 in the losing effort last Sunday against the Diamondbacks), that lowered K count also lowered his pitch count. He threw 104 pitches and didn't seem to labor at all, even in the hot, humid conditions at Turner Field. But there wasn't any need for him to go longer than seven in those conditions, and a missed double play in the seventh resulted in a second Braves run when Ender Inciarte tripled to deep center field. That bumped Jake's ERA up just a bit, to 1.86. Which is still excellent.
Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill finished up this one without incident.
The win improved Jake's record to 10-1. It's the third straight year Jake has posted double figures in wins, making him the first Cubs pitcher to do that since Ryan Dempster did it four consecutive seasons from 2008-11, if you are keeping track of such things.
Chris Coghlan got his first start since his return, and flashed some glove with this nice running catch:
Coghlan also had his first hit since coming back to the Cubs, and he'll likely be sharing time with Albert Almora Jr. out there. Almora batted for Coghlan in the seventh and remained in the game to play left field.
The Cubs had just one walk in this one, an intentional pass to Bryant in the ninth, though I'm sure no one here objects to the eight-run, 13-hit, four-homer offensive outburst. That keeps the season total at 254, an average of 4.25 per game. Pace: 686, still enough to break the team record of 650. Even with the recent slowdown in bases on balls, the Cubs still lead the National League in walks.
Pending Saturday night's Pirates/Cardinals game, the Cubs lead the Cardinals by 9½ games and the Pirates by 10½. At this point I don't really care who wins that series, as long as it doesn't result in a Cardinals sweep -- better that those two teams beat up on each other.
So the Cubs go into Sunday's game in the same spot they were in Philadelphia: one win for each of the two teams, with the Cubs having a chance for yet another series win. Jon Lester goes for the Cubs and John Gant for the Braves.