The rain finally ended in Chicago, though somewhat cool breezes still blew through Wrigley Field Sunday afternoon.
The Cubs sent four baseballs into the bleachers off Brewers pitching and not one of them needed any help from the wind blowing out to right field at 11 miles per hour. The 13-run attack was the Cubs’ second-best of 2017 and they defeated the Brewers 13-6, splitting their rain-shortened series and going to 4-1 on the homestand.
No time was wasted by Cubs hitters in getting in front. Ben Zobrist led off the bottom of the first by hitting Chase Anderson’s third pitch into the seats [VIDEO].
The Cubs weren’t done in that inning, either. After Kyle Schwarber walked and Kris Bryant dumped a bloop single into right field, Ian Happ doubled in one run and Willson Contreras hit a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead.
Then Jake Arrieta got to work. He had allowed a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar and it was “Uh-oh, here we go again” time in the first inning. But then Jake settled down and retired 10 of the next 11 hitters he faced. For that brief time he looked like 2015 Jake again.
The Cubs were increasing their lead as this was happening. Bryant went oppo in the third [VIDEO].
That made it 4-0, and was a nice piece of hitting on this cool afternoon. Jake got out of a bit of a jam in the fourth by striking out Keon Broxton with two runners on, and then back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the inning made it 5-0.
Jake’s own fielding error in the fifth helped the Brewers to the only run they scored off him. All told, Jake threw six innings, allowed five hits and one unearned run, walked only one and struck out six. He threw 71 strikes in 111 pitches and, while the overall outing wasn’t what we saw from 2015 Jake, there was enough positive in this one to hint that he might at least be able to return to what he was last year. Jake dropped his season ERA by more than half a run in this game, from 5.44 to 4.80. (Still too high, but progress!)
The Cubs were piling on even more runs. Bryant went deep a second time:
That made it 6-1, and the Cubs made it 8-1 in the sixth. One run scored on a wild pitch, and Schwarber singled in the second of the two in that frame. A nice opposite-field double by Jason Heyward (who was 1-for-3 with two walks in his return from the DL), a passed ball and a sac fly by Contreras made it 9-1 in the seventh. Contreras had a nice day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and two sac flies. Behind the plate was a different matter for Willson, as he had a pair of passed balls to go along with three Arrieta wild pitches getting by him.
So it’s 9-1 going to the bottom of the eighth, after Dylan Floro, just recalled, had a scoreless eighth. The Cubs piled on Brewers reliever Jared Hughes for four more runs, the big blow a two-run homer by Anthony Rizzo [VIDEO].
Coming into this game Rizzo was hitting .167/.333/.233 in May (10-for-60, though with 12 walks). He had hit only one home run in his last 17 games. You surely know that Rizzo is a streak hitter; hopefully, this homer starts him on one of those streaks.
The Cubs batted around in that four-run eighth and that included an at-bat from Floro, who Joe Maddon hoped would end the game easily and save the rest of the pen.
Floro did save the rest of the pen, as no one else even warmed up, but “ending the game easily” wasn’t what happened. The Brewers pounded Floro for five runs in the ninth, including a two-run homer by Travis Shaw. Floro, along with Rob Zastryzny, Justin Grimm, Felix Pena and Pierce Johnson, have been on the up-and-down Iowa shuttle as the Cubs try to get at least one guy who can hold down that last bullpen slot. Not one of those guys has really seized the role. It’ll be interesting to see if the Cubs make yet another relief roster move before Monday’s game. Grimm is eligible to return, but he pitched poorly in his last Triple-A outing Saturday.
So we’ll see. It was good to see the Cubs bats come alive Sunday, and Arrieta’s outing was very encouraging. A couple of fun Kris Bryant facts from this one:
Kris Bryant: only #Cubs player (1913-present) with 2 HR and 2 HBP in a game— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 21, 2017
Kris Bryant in Jake Arrieta starts 2016-17— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 21, 2017
(42 games including postseason)
.419/.495/.808, 46 R, 18 HR, 46 RBI #Cubs
The Cubs now host the Giants, another 2016 postseason team currently struggling, in a four-game series beginning Monday night. Guess what? There’s a chance of rain again. Weather permitting, John Lackey will face San Francisco’s Ty Blach.