I could almost repost the recap to Tuesday’s Cubs win over the Marlins and it would serve just as well. For the second straight night, the Cubs got excellent pitching, timely hitting and strong defense. All of that led to their second consecutive shutout and a series sweep, 6-0 over the Marlins, a sweep in which they outscored their opponent 17-2. It was the Cubs’ fourth shutout this year, which leads the major leagues. They’ve got their first three-game winning streak of 2019 and have won seven of their last 10.
Now let’s be honest. The Marlins aren’t a very good team; mostly, they resemble a Triple-A squad and they very well could wind up losing 110 games this year.
But wins are wins, no matter how you put them together, and the Cubs certainly appear to have righted the ship and done what they needed to on this brief road trip, to drag out just a couple of cliches.
A Willson Contreras double and Daniel Descalso single made it 1-0 Cubs in the second inning, and then they broke the game open in the third. Kris Bryant singled and went to second on an infield out, and then it was Javy time [VIDEO].
Javier Baez’ single made it 2-0, and Javy has been doing a lot of opposite-field hitting this season, something really good to see. Baez took second on the throw to the plate, and Jason Heyward was next [VIDEO].
That’s also oppo hitting, and Heyward’s been very good at that so far this season. After a walk to Willson Contreras, Descalso lofted a ball to left field [VIDEO].
Marlins left fielder Austin Dean turned the wrong way at least twice going for that ball, which landed for a two-run double, completing the Cubs’ four-run inning.
Meanwhile, Hamels was mowing down Marlins. Through six innings, he had allowed just one hit, a second-inning single by Jorge Alfaro. It looked like he might have a shot at finishing the game, but a long seventh inning in which he gave up two hits ended Hamels’ evening, his best outing of 2018. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out eight. Since his rough outing opening the season at Texas (and I even wrote in February that starting Hamels in Texas might not be such a great idea!), Hamels has a 1.29 ERA and 0.619 WHIP in three starts, with no walks and 18 strikeouts in 21 innings. He looks very much like the same guy the Cubs had for 12 starts down the stretch in 2018. Hamels was helped out by some good defensive plays, like this one by KB [VIDEO].
Javy wrapped up the scoring with this opposite-field homer in the eighth [VIDEO].
Fun fact time!
Willson Contreras (6 HR) & Javier Báez (6 HR): first time #Cubs had a pair of players with 6+ HR through the team's first 17 games of a season since 1958, when Lee Walls (9 HR) & Ernie Banks (6 HR) did it.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 18, 2019
Last two times #Cubs had 7+ scoreless innings by a lefty starter in consecutive games:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 18, 2019
Last night & tonight
José Quintana (7 IP) & Cole Hamels (7 IP)
June 28 & June 29, 1935
Roy Henshaw (9 IP) & Larry French (12 IP in game 1 of doubleheader)
And even better than that one:
First time #Cubs have had a starting pitcher pitch 7+ scoreless innings with no walks in consecutive games since 1909.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 18, 2019
Ed Reulbach on July 31, Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown on August 1 (game 1 of doubleheader)
*thank you to the @baseball_ref Play index! https://t.co/fobbWnx4jR
Weird Cubs offensive stats:
#Cubs offense this season— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 18, 2019
Bryant & Rizzo: .189/.318/.331 4 HR
Everyone else (minus pitchers): .303/.381/.509 22 HR
Run differential this season— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 18, 2019
Best in NL Central: #Cubs +18
Worst in NL Central: #Brewers -2
Also, one fun fact from me. Javier Baez, last four games: .611/.611/1.167 (11-for-18, 1.778 OPS) with four doubles and two home runs. Keep that up and Javy could be N.L. Player of the Week. For the season, Javy is now hitting .324/.351/.635 with six doubles and six home runs.
That run differential note is important, too. The Brewers are 12-7 with a negative run differential while the Cubs are 8-9 with the second-best run differential in the National League (Dodgers lead with +29). These things will even out eventually. The Cubs trail Milwaukee by three games in the N.L. Central, two in the loss column, and are finally playing the kind of baseball we expected to see from them.
The team will have a well-deserved off day Thursday before the Arizona Diamondbacks come to town for a three-game weekend series beginning Friday afternoon. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs Friday. At this writing, the D-backs, who have an afternoon game Thursday against the Braves in Atlanta, have no starting pitchers listed for the weekend. We know those starters won’t include Luke Weaver (going Thursday) or Zack Godley, who started Wednesday. Game time Friday is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago (MLB Network outside the Cubs and D-backs market territories).
Enjoy the off day. Things are looking up!