It seems as if the city of Chicago wanted the Atlanta Braves to experience every kind of weather the Midwest has to offer in their two trips here this year. In April, there was snow, rain, drizzle, high winds, temperatures in the 30s. And Monday, we had a couple of seasons in one day... with rain and thunderstorms and temperatures in the 50s in the morning, followed by sunshine and temps that hit the 80-degree level in the afternoon.
The wind was blowing out in the early innings, something that helped Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies hit a leadoff homer off Jose Quintana. Oddly specific stat related to that homer:
With a home run in the first inning against the Cubs today, Ozzie Albies of the @Braves ties the all-time record for most home runs (13) among second basemen through 40 games of the season.#ChopOn pic.twitter.com/1YWQEihU4N— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) May 14, 2018
I mean... who keeps track of that? And whose record did he tie?
Anyway, Quintana struggled through the rest of the first inning, loading the bases on walks, but striking out Ender Inciarte and Jose Bautista to get out of the frame with just one run allowed... channeling Lucas Giolito, I guess.
An error charged to Anthony Rizzo and a missed possible play on a sacrifice attempt by Braves pitcher Julio Teheran put two runners on in the second, but Quintana got out of that one, too. Really, the Cubs should probably have been behind 3-0 or 4-0 by this time, and Albert Almora Jr. put the Cubs ahead with one swing, with Kyle Schwarber on base in the second:
Almora’s second of the year made it 2-1 Cubs. The teams traded two-run homers in the third, with Tyler Flowers putting the Braves ahead 3-2 before Kris Bryant batted with Tommy La Stella on base in the bottom of the inning:
Just a humble man who hits baseballs very far. pic.twitter.com/vpUomhxShs— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 14, 2018
That, unfortunately, was it for the Cubs offense for quite some time. Rizzo walked after KB’s homer, but then Teheran set down nine Cubs in order until Ben Zobrist singled with one out in the sixth. Unfortunately, Zobrist was doubled off first when Inciarte made a nice grab of a sinking liner hit by Javier Baez.
While this was going on, Quintana was getting hit hard. He gave up two singles to lead off the fifth, got an out on a hard-hit fly ball, and then Bautista slammed a three-run homer to left, his second as a member of the Braves. Fun fact about Joey Bats’ homer:
Career HR #333 for Mr. Joseph Bats.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 14, 2018
His first at Wrigley Field.
The blast put Atlanta ahead 6-4, and when Q gave up two more hits, Joe Maddon finally had to take him out with two out in the fifth. Q gave up nine hits and walked three, and against teams not named “Brewers” this year, he has a 5.23 ERA.
Funny thing. Q has had six solid big-league seasons entering this year. His velocity seems fine, he doesn’t appear to be injured. The bad pitching against all teams besides Milwaukee is mystifying. All I can say is, I hope the coaching staff can figure this out, and soon.
The bullpen, again, did a good job of keeping the game close. Brian Duensing continued the walk parade by walking the bases loaded in the sixth, but got out of the inning scoreless. Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson and Justin Hancock had one scoreless inning each, with a single walk by Wilson and Hancock. In all, Cubs pitchers walked eight on the afternoon, which is way too many. It’s the fifth time this year the Cubs have issued eight or more walks in a game — compared to only seven such games all of 2017. One of the other four games was the 14-10 comeback win April 14 over the Braves, which was started by... Quintana.
Anyway, the Cubs went to the last of the ninth down two runs against A.J. Minter, who has mainly been a setup man for Atlanta so far this year. And after a slick play by Johan Camargo on a sharp ground ball by Baez was the first out, the Cubs started hitting. Victor Caratini singled, Schwarber walked and Almora singled to load the bases. David Bote was sent up to bat for Hancock, fouled off a couple of 97 mile per hour offerings, then struck out.
Ian Happ batted for La Stella, and was hit by an 0-2 pitch, making it 6-5.
Bryant was next. On a 1-2 pitch he hit a line drive to left... just not far enough, and it was caught by Ronald Acuna Jr. to end the game with that 6-5 score, making the Cubs 4-6 in one-run games so far in 2018.
Give the Braves credit, they appear to be for real, have a lot of good young players and solid pitching. They seem to be about where the Cubs were in 2015, playing better than expected, and though I don’t expect them to win the National League East, they very well could be a wild-card contender. Also, they have played much better on the road than at home. Atlanta is now 17-8 away from their home ballpark, SunTrust Park, just 8-7 at home. So the Cubs still have a chance to do some damage when the series resumes in Atlanta Tuesday night.
Monday afternoon’s crowd was much bigger than you might expect for a makeup game played on a weekday that was originally scheduled for a Sunday. For many Sunday games, you find lots of families with kids in the ballpark... and apparently, these families decided to have their kids take the day off school, because there were many, many more young kids in the park than you’d expect on a Monday afternoon in May. All appeared to be having a good time, with the exception of the result. Maybe 25,000 of the announced 35,946 were in the ballpark.
Tuesday evening, the teams reconvene at SunTrust Park at 6:35 p.m. CT. Yu Darvish is expected to be activated from the disabled list to start against the Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz. TV coverage Tuesday will be on NBC Sports Chicago Plus.