You were worried about Kris Bryant, at least a little, right? We all were, and I wrote about that in the preview to Friday’s game.
Not that KB would have read that or paid any attention to it, but it appears the rest that Joe Maddon gave him might have paid off. Bryant singled, homered (his first since May 14) and drove in four runs, and the Cubs also got homers from Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber in a 13-5 destruction of the Cardinals.
About the homers and the headline?
#Cubs now have home runs tonight by:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 16, 2018
- 2013 1st round pick (Kris Bryant - 2nd overall)
- 2014 1st round pick (Kyle Schwarber - 4th overall)
- 2015 1st round pick (Ian Happ - 9th overall)
Happ’s homer led off the scoring in the third inning. One out and a single later, Bryant stepped to the plate [VIDEO].
That made it 3-0. With runners on first and third in the fourth inning, it was time for Jon Lester to show off his bunting prowess [VIDEO]. Lester’s safety squeeze scored Javier Baez, and check out Lester’s baserunning when Yadier Molina threw the bunt into right field. A sacrifice fly by Albert Almora Jr. made it 5-0.
But the Cubs saved their biggest offensive explosion for a six-run fifth. After a double by Anthony Rizzo and a walk drawn by Willson Contreras, Schwarber stepped to the plate [VIDEO] and sent a baseball soaring into the St. Louis night:
According to Cards, Schwarber HR measured at 465 feet, 3rd longest at Busch Stadium by an opposing player. #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 16, 2018
That made it 8-1, as Marcell Ozuna had homered off Lester in the bottom of the fifth. Another solo blast, this one by Matt Carpenter, made it 8-2, and Lester completed six good innings, allowing just five hits and the two homers on a hot, sticky, typical summer evening in St. Louis. That outing kept Lester on top of a pretty impressive list:
Most starts by a lefty with 6+ innings and 2 or fewer runs allowed— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 16, 2018
43 Jon Lester (including tonight)
40 Chris Sale
39 Clayton Kershaw
38 José Quintana
Things got a little sloppy after that off three Cubs relievers, including a run (of the two allowed) off Anthony Bass being unearned due to a rare error on Almora. The Cubs also tacked on a couple more runs in garbage time to make the final 13-5, and nine of those runs (eight earned) were off Michael Wacha, whose ERA went up three-quarters of a run from 2.47 to 3.24 in this one. The nine runs allowed were the most of Wacha’s career, surpassing a game against... the Cubs in May 2016, where he allowed eight.
13 runs. Almost twice as many as the team scored in the entire three-game series in Milwaukee. As many runs as the Cubs scored in their previous six games combined. Hopefully, this is the start of getting the offense to score more consistently. It was good to see Addison Russell have a three-hit game. Still think the Cubs need to deal for Manny Machado? (Hint: They don’t.)
Also, Javy Baez drew two unintentional walks Friday night. Here’s how rare that is:
Javier Báez with 2 unintentional walks in a game for the first time since August 19, 2014 #Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 16, 2018
August 19, 2014 was Baez’s 15th major-league game. Friday night was his 431st.
Javier Báez unintentional walks— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 16, 2018
Tonight: 2 in 4 plate appearances (through 6th inning)
Previous 55 games: 2 in 219 plate appearances#Cubs
And for those of you who were unhappy with Joe Maddon’s decision to sit KB in Wednesday’s game and not even send him up as a pinch-hitter, I urge you to read this and keep it in mind:
“Everyday major-league baseball players, to me, have the toughest grind of any professional athlete,” Maddon said. “Everyday players who play high-end baseball that make it look somewhat easy ... it’s not. That’s the group you have to pay attention to.
“That’s going to be the outlier or the next level of baseball intelligence regarding resting really good players. And if you do that, you’re worried about what you’re going to be missing that night. But if you really want to see sustained success, you have to rest your guys.”
Maddon has indeed had sustained success with the Cubs doing exactly that. It’s the philosophy of “lose the battle, win the war.” A reminder that from August 1 through the end of the regular season from 2015-17, the Cubs’ record was 118-57 (.674). That compares to 174-136 (.561) from the beginning of the season through the end of July in that time frame. One of the biggest factors in those end-of-the-season runs is the rest that Maddon has given to his regular players early on. This is why it’s so important for the Cubs to have a roster filled with players who can play multiple positions. For example, Friday night Joe gave Rizzo a few innings off after the game became a blowout and had Bryant play first base while Tommy La Stella filled in capably at third.
So when you’re complaining about a specific lineup selection or not using KB in a 1-0 loss, look at the big picture. Joe Maddon has had success here that no Cubs manager has had in more than 85 years. I trust him to make the right choices.
The Brewers also scored 13 runs Friday night, five of them in their second straight chasing of Jake Arrieta (thanks for nothing, Jake), who was victimized by some sloppy defense (four of the eight runs off Arrieta were unearned). And so the Cubs remain 1½ games behind the Brewers, still even in the loss column with them at 27 defeats.
The Cubs will go for two straight against the Cardinals Saturday night. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Carlos Martinez goes for St. Louis. Game time is 7:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage is via Fox-TV. Check this map for the Fox game in your market and remember that if you have a subscription to MLB.tv or MLB Extra Innings, you can watch via those services even if the game isn’t on the Fox station in your area.