Two more runs allowed in the first inning.
I mean, if this has been getting old for you, imagine how the Cubs must feel. Wednesday’s contest was the fourth straight game the Cubs had spotted their opponent a first-inning lead, and after the inning was over they had allowed 35 total runs in the first inning this year. That’s the most of any team in baseball, though not by as large a margin as you might think. The Mets are second with 30.
The worst part about that inning is that both run-scoring hits came with two out. Jake Arrieta seemed to have things under control, striking out two of the first three hitters, but he couldn’t close the deal in the inning until he had thrown 28 pitches.
But after that Jake settled down. He allowed one more run on three hits in the fourth inning, but completed six innings with seven strikeouts, a much better outing than his last two. Truth be told, at 85 pitches through six (thus only 57 pitches for innings two through six) he probably could have thrown another inning.
He didn’t need to after the Cubs batted around and scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth en route to a 5-4 win over the Phillies on another cold, windy night at Wrigley Field.
The best things about that four-run rally is that it was accomplished without a home run, and that the Cubs had three straight hits with RISP, plating all four runs. With one out, Anthony Rizzo singled and went to second on a single by Ben Zobrist. After Addison Russell popped up for the second out, Jason Heyward singled in Rizzo to make the score 3-2.
The Phillies decided they didn’t want righthanded reliever Joely Rodriguez to face Miguel Montero, and after they countered with lefty Edubray Ramos, Joe Maddon sent Willson Contreras up to bat for Miggy.
Undoubtedly, this was the matchup Joe wanted, and Willson came through [VIDEO].
Contreras’ two-run double gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead, and then Matt Szczur pinch-hit for Arrieta.
Szczur sent a ground ball to shortstop [VIDEO] that Freddy Galvis stopped from going through.
When Galvis hesitated, Willson never stopped running and scored what turned out to be a very important run. I didn’t see (and you can’t on the video) whether Gary Jones waved him home or whether Contreras went on his own. Nevertheless, the Cubs had their fifth run. Joe Maddon loves Willson’s aggressiveness (and provided today’s headline):
#Cubs Maddon on Contreras "He plays with his hair on fire"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 4, 2017
Cubs fans of a previous generation might remember Mark Grace using that phrase to describe how Mitch Williams pitched.
Koji Uehara threw a 1-2-3 seventh. Koji has been quite effective when used properly; I don’t think you’ll see Joe use him on back-to-back nights anymore.
Hector Rondon retired the first two batters he faced on easy ground balls, but then Aaron Altherr doubled off the left-center field wall and he was singled in by Maikel Franco, making it 5-4. (Thank you, Willson, for that insurance run!)
Wade Davis did issue a one-out walk in the ninth, but struck out Tommy Joseph to end it for his seventh save. Davis has still not been scored on this year. He’s faced 44 batters and retired 33 of them, 15 by strikeout.
Kris Bryant had two more hits in this game, producing this fun fact:
After starting 0-14, Kris Bryant now one point away from .300 on the season #Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 4, 2017
Since the 0-for-14 start: .337/.449/.663 (30-for-89) with 10 doubles, five home runs and 17 walks.
The Cubs thus returned to three games over .500 for the first time since April 26 and increased their division lead to 1½ games when the Brewers and Cardinals were rained out in St. Louis Wednesday night.
Weather permitting, the Cubs and Phillies will conclude their four-game series Thursday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CT, with the Cubs going for the series win. John Lackey will go for the Cubs and Zach Eflin for the Phillies. The game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CT.