Aaron Altherr sent Jon Lester’s seventh pitch of the evening into the left-field bleachers Tuesday at Wrigley Field, the 33rd first-inning run the Cubs have allowed this year. The sinking feeling of “uh-oh, here we go again” came forth, no doubt from fans even if not from Cubs players.
But the Cubs got that run right back in the bottom of the inning. It took one more pitch from Jeremy Hellickson, his eighth offering of the first inning, for Kris Bryant to match Altherr’s feat [VIDEO].
Bryant’s fifth homer of the year tied the game. Lester, even while throwing a lot of pitches, settled down over the next couple of innings while his teammates were getting him the lead. First was Javier Baez [VIDEO].
Javy’s third of the year made it 2-1, and the Cubs broke it open in the fourth. With two out, Jon Lester singled — his first hit of 2017. Baez followed with a single, and Kyle Schwarber was next:
The three-run homer made it 5-2, as the Phillies had tied the game in the top of the inning. Fun fact about Kyle’s homer: he’s the fastest Cub in history to 20 career homers. It happened in his 97th career regular-season game. Sometimes I think we all forget just how brief Kyle’s career has been so far — not even the equivalent of a single full season.
The Cubs tacked on two more in the fifth, thanks again to Javy [VIDEO].
Baez’s two-run triple made it 8-3, as the Phillies had again scored in the top of the inning. Lester made it through that fifth inning, barely, striking out Tommy Joseph to end that frame with his 106th pitch. He issued five walks (one of which was a “Manfred”), and will certainly have to be more efficient going forward. Making it through five innings did get him his first “win” of the year, for whatever that’s worth.
Then it was up to the bullpen, and they did an excellent job. Carl Edwards Jr., Hector Rondon and Wade Davis retired all 12 Phillies they faced. Davis, I suppose, was in the game because he hadn’t thrown since Saturday, and his efficient 10-pitch outing means he’s likely available tonight.
Edwards threw two innings and 27 pitches, which is a bit of a heavy workload for him. The bullpen’s already getting a lot of use and the Cubs really need their starters to begin to go consistently deeper into games.
The shutdown of the Phillies offense meant that the only thing of interest in the late innings was to see if Baez, who had homered, singled and tripled in his first three at-bats, could hit a double to complete a cycle. He came up leading off the bottom of the eighth and blooped a little hit into short right field.
As he rounded first base you could see Javy really thinking about trying to take second base, but the ball didn’t go far enough and he settled for the single to make it a four-hit night, the third four-hit game of his career. Other fun facts about Javy’s game:
Javier Báez: first #Cubs player with 4 hits out of 9 spot since Darwin Barney (7/2/2014); first in NL game since Carlos Zambrano 5/23/2008— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 3, 2017
Javier Báez: first #Cubs player with 4 hits out of 9 spot in order at Wrigley Field since pitcher Don Cardwell 6/30/1960— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 3, 2017
Kris Bryant & Javier Báez: first #Cubs duo with a triple & HR each in a game since Billy Williams & George Altman 7/1/1961— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 3, 2017
Bryant, for his part, left the game for pinch-hitter Albert Almora Jr. in the eighth inning. Here’s why:
Bryant pulled due to tight calf— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) May 3, 2017
That doesn’t sound like anything serious, and likely was done because the Cubs had a big lead in the late innings on another cold night. At least it was mostly dry, with just a couple of passing sprinkles.
So those of you worried about Javy — he raised his batting average 47 points (.222 to .269) with the four-hit night — I think he’ll be just fine.
So will Schwarber, who struck the ball well (three outfield flyouts in addition to the home run). The Cubs offense produced 11 hits and five walks Tuesday night. The five walks put them over the 100 mark for the season at 104, exactly four per game. That’s a pace for 648 for the season.
The Cubs evened up their series with the Phillies and now stand alone in first place, a game ahead of the Brewers and Cardinals, who are tied for second. They’ll go for two straight over the Phillies Wednesday night, with Jake Arrieta facing Jerad Eickhoff.