What a strange game.
We can say that about the Cubs’ 9-7 win over the Rockies because, among other things, this turned out to not be serious:
Scary moment as Kris Bryant takes a pitch to his head and exits the game. pic.twitter.com/MV5QCSOo8N— NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSChicago) April 22, 2018
After Kris Bryant was hit in the helmet by German Marquez’ pitch, he walked away and was immediately attended to by trainers. But he stood there, not shaking it off, and so was whisked away to the clubhouse. The immediate thought is that KB had a concussion, but that appears not to be the case:
Kris Bryant was examined upon exiting today’s game and has passed all tests thus far.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 22, 2018
He has a small laceration above his eye from his sunglasses, but has shown no signs of a concussion.
He will continue to be evaluated.
Hopefully, that continues to be true and, with the off day Monday, Bryant will be all right to play Tuesday in Cleveland.
During all this both Cubs hitting coaches, Chili Davis and Andy Haines, got into it with the umpiring crew. Haines was seen throwing a cup of liquid (coffee, probably) onto the field. Both were ejected.
The Cubs turned Bryant’s HBP into good fortune. It happened with two out, and the next four hitters all singled, producing three runs. So Jose Quintana went to the mound with a three-run lead. Q had a scoreless first, but not without help from Albert Almora Jr.:
Albert Almora is getting really really good at his Willie Mays impersonation. pic.twitter.com/BOa34AhTYq— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) April 22, 2018
Almora looked a bit shaken up after that, but after being examined by the busy Cubs trainers, he stayed in the game.
In the second, Javier Baez extended the lead to 4-0:
Seven home runs now for Javy, with still seven games remaining in April. He’s having a fantastic month, and wouldn’t be done on the day. Neither would Almora, who did it again defensively in the second:
Another one for Albert Almora! pic.twitter.com/mFSQQi8DJH— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) April 22, 2018
In the third, the Cubs loaded the bases on singles by Tommy La Stella and Kyle Schwarber and a walk by Victor Caratini. Jason Heyward, who’s having a fine season at the plate, singled in two runs, a nicely-struck drive to right field.
Unfortunately, Heyward did not have as good a day in the field, which is very unusual for him. The sun gave him trouble in the bottom of the third with runners on first and second and two out. He lost Trevor Story’s fly ball and dropped it. Story wound up with a triple and it was 6-2.
Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado homered back-to-back off Quintana in the fifth, no shame in that, those guys have hit lots of home runs off good pitchers.
So after five innings it’s a fairly ordinary 6-4 game with just a handful of oddities, and that’s when it really got strange.
With one out in the top of the seventh, Schwarber was on second and Heyward on first, with reliever Steve Cishek taking the at-bat. Relief pitchers, as you know, don’t bat very often. Prior to Sunday, Cishek had batted twice in his nine-year career, once with the Marlins in 2012 and once earlier this year. He had zero career sacrifice bunts, but it was pretty obvious to everyone that Cishek was up to move the runners along.
Obvious to everyone but Rockies first baseman Ian Desmond, that is. Cishek laid down a bunt that went about three feet in front of the plate. Catcher Chris Iannetta pounced on it and went to throw to first, but Desmond was lolling around about halfway between first and home. With no one covering first, Cishek had his first big-league hit. Hope they got the ball for him. (He never had a hit in the minor leagues, either, going 0-for-3.)
Whether this was by design or punishment for his brain cramp, Desmond was then sent to the outfield as the Rockies changed pitchers and switched some other people around. Almora then grounded out, scoring one run, and major-league RBI leader Baez doubled in two more. That gave the Cubs a 9-4 lead and Baez 23 RBI. More Javy:
#Cubs with more HR than singles in a season— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 22, 2018
(minimum 5 HR)
2018 Javier Báez 7 HR, 6 1B (so far)
2013 Scott Hairston 8 HR, 7 1B (prior to midseason trade to Nationals)
2006 Carlos Zambrano 6 HR, 5 1B
Unfortunately, Cishek wasn’t good in the bottom of the inning. A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out. Carl Edwards Jr. replaced Cishek and got the plays he wanted, ground balls. The first one scored a run, and the second was a ball off C.J.’s leg that he then threw away, with two more runs scoring.
C.J. recovered from all this to have a solid 1-2-3 eighth.
Almora did it yet again in the ninth, catching a drive hit by Charlie Blackmon and then slamming into the pads on the center-field wall. Fortunately, he was OK, but I’ll bet AA will be happy to have Monday’s off day to recover. Have a look:
And that ninth inning, where Brandon Morrow posted his fourth save, had more drama to come. Morrow loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, and then apparently wild-pitched a run in to make it 9-8, but Joe Maddon immediately challenged, and the call on the field was overturned, and the game was over!
One final note on this bizarre win: Nice work by Heyward recently. In his last four games, he is 7-for-16 with a triple, a home run and seven RBI — and only one strikeout. Seems clear to me that his new approach is working. Now if we could only get the sun out of his eyes! He’ll certainly appreciate two night games in Cleveland. J-Hey joined Schwarber, La Stella and Baez with a two-hit afternoon, giving the Cubs the series win, their first since they took three of four from the Brewers in Milwaukee two weeks ago.
The Cubs will have Monday off before that two-game series in Cleveland against the Indians, the first regular-season matchup between the two teams since their memorable 2016 World Series. Tuesday, Tyler Chatwood will go for the Cubs and Josh Tomlin for the Indians. Game time Tuesday is 5:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via WGN. Hopefully, they’ll have fixed their scorebox by then. More on that topic here tomorrow.