The Cubs defeated the Twins 14-9 on yet another hot, windy Wrigley afternoon, their third straight double-digit scoring game, and thus the complaint department is going to be closed and locked shut.
Well... not entirely, but I’m going to try to keep that to a minimum. First, the three straight double-digit games for the Cubs hasn’t happened in a while:
#Cubs: first time scoring 10+ runs in 3 straight games since April 15-17, 2003.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 30, 2018
13 games this season with 10+ runs leads the Majors
This game, though, didn’t start out that way. Joe Mauer, who appears to just love hitting at Wrigley Field, smacked a bases-clearing double in the second inning to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. That might not have happened if Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Albert Almora Jr. — usually fine fielders all — didn’t get their signals crossed on a popup behind second base by Jake Cave. It dropped for a hit; if that ball is caught, no runs score at all in the inning.
In five career games at Wrigley, Mauer is now 11-for-23 (.478) with two doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI.
After Mauer’s double, though, Tyler Chatwood set down eight straight Twins before issuing a walk. In the interim, the Cubs put up a three-run third to tie the game, on RBI singles by Anthony Rizzo (one run scoring) and Ben Zobrist (two). The Cubs took a 4-3 lead in the fourth when David Bote walked, advanced to second on a Chatwood sacrifice, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Chatwood issued a one-out walk in the fourth, and Eddie Rosario homered to make it 5-4 Twins. The Twins weren’t done, because Chatwood issued yet another walk and then a pair of singles that scored two more runs to make it 7-4.
So, Chatwood? Gonna open the complaint department door just a little. He threw 103 pitches in five innings, and in general threw strikes, 64 of them, and the three walks aren’t terrible... but Twins hitters hit him pretty hard, and the seven runs allowed in five innings are the most he’s given up in any start as a Cub. Fortunately the Cubs won this game, but that kind of outing really puts pressure on the bullpen.
The Cubs took a 9-7 lead with a five-run fifth, and they still didn’t have an extra-base hit. Zobrist, Bote, Ian Happ, Almora and Jason Heyward all drove in runs, Zobrist with a sacrifice fly, the rest with hits. The Cubs had seven singles in their five-run inning, a nicely-done performance. You don’t need to hit the ball out of the ballpark to score crooked numbers.
Unfortunately, Almora had to leave the game with a leg cramp. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear serious:
Almora cramped up during the game because of the heat. He's likely to get a rest tomorrow. #Cubs— Bruce Miles (@BruceMiles2112) June 30, 2018
Brian Duensing, a former Twin who’s had a really tough time this month, got hit hard in the sixth, issuing a pair of walks and two singles that resulted in a two-run inning that tied the game. This appeared at that point to be the kind of game that you’re happy you have the last at-bat, but the Cubs didn’t need to go that far.
They put up another five-run inning in the seventh, and after 14 hits finally had someone hit a double, Happ, after a leadoff walk by Bote. Kyle Schwarber, pinch-hitting, was intentionally passed to load the bases, and then Heyward (single) and Baez (double) drove in runs to make it 12-9. Another intentional pass to Rizzo loaded the bases again. Willson Contreras hit a sacrifice fly for the 13th run and a single by Russell made it 14-9.
The Cubs were 11-for-22 with RISP in this game. That’s... really, really good. I can’t remember the last time any Cubs team, or any team, had 11 hits in a game with runners in scoring position. The 20-hit attack was the most hits in a game for the Cubs since August 30, 2017 against the Pirates, when they had 20 hits in a 17-3 win.
Justin Wilson, who struggled on Friday, had a good 1-2-3 seventh, before the Cubs broke out for that five-run inning. Anthony Bass started the eighth and allowed a pair of hits before Javy did some Javy [VIDEO].
That one brought out chants of “Javy! Javy! Javy!”
After that, Pedro Strop finished the eighth and ninth, and with the Twins out of position players, they sent up pitcher Jake Odorizzi to pinch-hit, and he grounded out to end it. (And it’s not like Odorizzi is much of a hitter; coming into this game he was 2-for-18 lifetime with eight strikeouts. I’m guessing Paul Molitor really misses the DH in this series.)
A few more fun facts about this one:
This is the first time the #Cubs had 20+ hits in a game with none of them being home runs since 8/16/2007 at Wrigley vs Reds— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 30, 2018
Last time #Cubs scored 14+ runs in a game without a home run was 8/23/2000 - a 15-5 win vs Astros at "Enron Field"— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 30, 2018
Jason Heyward (June 2018) is the first #Cubs player with three 4-hit games in a month since Starlin Castro (August 2010)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 30, 2018
And for Heyward, he had quite the month of June:
Jason Heyward June 2018 (25 games): .327/.364/.510, 10 doubles, 3 HR#Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 30, 2018
You could make a case for Heyward for N.L. Player of the Month for June. At the beginning of the month he was hitting .262/.338/.385. As the calendar turns to July Heyward’s slash line reads .291/.346/.442. That’s the player the Cubs thought they were getting when they signed him. It took two and a half years for him to get back to that level — better late than never, right?
It was another hot, windy day at Wrigley. Some clouds scudded over the ballpark from time to time, lessening the heat, but most of the 3:44 game it was just about as hot as Friday. The right-field bleachers and right side of the main part of the park emptied out quickly, as those areas didn’t get much wind and were in full sun. It’s interesting that with the wind blowing out to left field pretty much the whole afternoon, just one home run was hit.
At this writing, the Reds just got a grand slam from Michael Lorenzen — see, the Cubs aren’t the only team the Reds can have pitchers hit slams off — and lead the Brewers 10-3 in the seventh. Presuming that score holds up, the Cubs will move to within 1½ games of first place. Saturday’s game also completes the mathematical first half of the 2018 season, 81 games, with the Cubs at 46-35. That’s a pace for 92 wins, same as last year, but we all know the Cubs under Joe Maddon generally turn things on in the second half. They also complete June 16-12, despite a five-game losing streak in the middle of the month.
The Cubs go for the sweep Sunday afternoon with Jon Lester on the mound against our old pal Lance Lynn. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage Sunday is on WGN.