Chicago’s weather changed dramatically from Sunday to Monday, with the temperature dropping around 25 degrees and the wind blowing in strongly from the north.
That knocked down several baseballs hit by both teams, preventing them from landing in the seats and blowing others that might have been home runs into foul territory in right field.
That did not stop Kris Bryant, though, on this first-inning two-run blast [VIDEO].
That ball would have been well out onto Waveland Avenue if not for the wind:
Bryant's HR impressive because he hit it into 17 mph NE wind. Exit velocity: 109 mph. Ball traveled 412 feet. #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 6, 2017
In fact, the double hit by Ben Zobrist leading off the bottom of that inning likely leaves the park if not for the wind.
Meanwhile, Eddie Butler was working quickly and efficiently. He struggled a bit in the second inning, allowing a leadoff double to Marcell Ozuna, followed by a walk issued to J.T. Realmuto. But Butler then induced this double-play grounder [VIDEO].
Almora’s third homer of the season, like Bryant’s, was crushed. Willson Contreras had hit a ball earlier that inning that looked like it was headed straight for us in the left-field corner of the bleachers, but it wound up being caught on the warning track. The Cubs have hit quite a few home runs over the last few games:
With Bryant's HR, #Cubs now have hit 36 HRs in last 24 games (tied with Nats before today's game as 2nd most in NL)— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 6, 2017
Almora’s made it 37, and now ahead of the Nationals, who had one home run in Monday’s action (Anthony Rendon). One more fun fact about recent Cubs homers:
After Butler allowed the Marlins to get on the board on a double, an infield out and a sacrifice fly, he gave up another double to Giancarlo Stanton and Joe Maddon lifted him for Mike Montgomery after 66 pitches. Butler’s teammates enjoyed playing behind the fast-working Butler:
#Cubs vs Marlins was played in 2:16. Butler: "Guys were talking about it after the game -- 'That was great pace of play today'"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 6, 2017
But the Butler/Montgomery tandem worked well in defeating the Giants May 25, where Butler threw five innings and 69 pitches and Montgomery finished up with 41 pitches (110 total). And it worked again Monday night, in part because Montgomery didn’t walk anyone. That was just the fourth time in 18 appearances this year where Montgomery didn’t issue any bases on balls.
He did allow three singles, including one to J.T. Riddle leading off the eighth. That’s when Contreras picked Riddle off, helped out by the replay review crew [VIDEO].
You can see Anthony Rizzo’s glove touch Riddle’s arm just before his hand lands back on first base. Montgomery gave up one more hit in the inning but retired the last five in a row to finish off his second save.
Butler and Montgomery combined for 117 pitches (74 strikes) in this one and maybe this could become a thing. The Cubs are possibly looking to add a sixth starter later this month, when they play on 17 consecutive days from June 16-July 2 (and all but three of those games on the road). But this “piggyback” thing, which a lot of teams including the Cubs use in their minor-league systems to protect arms, just might be the right thing for Butler and Montgomery. Also, both Butler and Montgomery have had trouble with walks. Perhaps doing this with them would help that issue. In the May 25 game they combined for three walks, this time just one.
Montgomery’s two saves this year have both been of at least 10 outs (3⅓ innings Monday, four innings May 25). That’s just the fourth time anyone has had two of those in one season since 2000:
multiple 10+ out saves in a season (since 2000)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 6, 2017
2017 Mike Montgomery #Cubs
2011 Alfredo Aceves
2004 Esteban Yan
2000 Dwight Gooden
The game time of two hours, 16 minutes was the second-fastest at Wrigley Field this season (2:05 May 23 vs. the Giants was quicker). And the 3-1 win over the Marlins was the Cubs’ fourth straight, and combined with the Brewers’ loss to the Giants, the Cubs moved into a virtual tie with Milwaukee for first place in the N.L. Central, leading by one percentage point (.518 to .517).
Nice scene: Ichiro Suzuki coming out of the dugout to pinch-hit in the eighth inning and getting a warm ovation from the Wrigley crowd. Though he’s not playing much and not playing well, he’s one of the more beloved figures in the game today. His Cooperstown induction will likely be one of the best-attended ever. He singled off Montgomery and now has 3,043 career hits, 25th all-time. Next up on the list: Rod Carew, 3,053 and Rickey Henderson, 3,055.
The Cubs go for their fifth consecutive victory Tuesday evening, when weather conditions are supposed to be similar to Monday’s (temperatures around 60 and strong north winds). Jake Arrieta will go for the Cubs and Jeff Locke for the Marlins.