SEATTLE — So, you were worried about Kyle Schwarber?
Don’t be, because he seems back on track. Despite two strikeouts — and there are going to be strikeouts for Kyle, because that’s the sort of hitter he is — his monstrous blast into the second deck at T-Mobile Park was the game-winner in a tense 6-5 Cubs victory over the Mariners that certainly was worth the entertainment dollar Tuesday evening.
That not only gave the Cubs the lead, it gave them something else they hadn’t had yet in 2019:
Cubs had been the only team still without a homer from the #1 spot— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 1, 2019
Okay, so that’s checked off the 2019 “things to do” list. The Cubs stretched out the lead to 2-0 in the third when David Bote beat out an infield single, advanced to second on a walk by Schwarber and scored on an RBI single by Albert Almora Jr.
Cole Hamels hadn’t allowed a hit through three innings, but he’d hit a batter and issued a walk and just didn’t quite seem to have the command he usually does. He’d probably have gotten out of the fourth inning all right, but Cubs fielders who are normally reliable had one of those innings. After a leadoff walk issued by Hamels, Tim Beckham doubled for the Mariners’ first hit. Hamels got the next two hitters, one of them on a groundout by Jay Bruce that made it 2-1. He then issued another walk, putting runners on first and third.
A ground ball to Bote that appeared routine instead turned into a mess [VIDEO].
Bote makes that play 99 times out of 100. Unfortunately, that was the 100th time. That should have ended the inning, instead it was 2-2. And then with runners on first and second, Javier Baez made one of those throwing errors where you say, “Oh Javy, please don’t throw that baseball.” [VIDEO]
So it’s now 3-2 Mariners, but the Cubs got the lead back moments later. Kris Bryant led off the fifth with a double. KB hit the ball hard all night, three times for outs and that double, and I sense he’s going to break out into a hitting streak soon. He was wild-pitched to third, but that didn’t matter when Anthony Rizzo came to the plate [VIDEO].
Rizzo’s two-run homer, his sixth, made it 4-3 Cubs. Rizzo ends the March/April combined “month” (27 games) hitting .228/.371/.485. The .856 OPS is pretty close to his career norm. Like KB, I think Rizzo is ready to break out and start hitting, as he usually does this time of year. He’s in far better shape than he was on April 30, 2018. Rizzo fun fact:
#Cubs with HR, SB & HBP in a game— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 1, 2019
Anthony Rizzo tonight
Willson Contreras Sunday
Alfonso Soriano 5/31/2008
Ryne Sandberg 8/18/1991
Luis Salazar 8/3/1990
Jerry Martin 8/1/1980
But Hamels couldn’t hold that lead either. Three Mariners hits off him in the bottom of the sixth chased Hamels and tied the game 4-4. In the seventh, Edwin Encarnacion hit a mammoth home run off Brandon Kintzler to give the M’s the lead.
Brad Brach ended that rally and hard-throwing Mariners rookie Brandon Brennan entered the game for the home team. Brennan, who the Cubs have not seen before, began the night with 19 strikeouts and just one home run allowed in 17 innings. He retired the first two hitters in the eighth and then Willson Contreras smacked a double into left-center.
That landed in the second deck. I haven’t watched too many TV games from this ballpark but I can’t imagine too many baseballs have landed there. Schwarber fun fact:
Schwarber has 16 HR in 53 career games vs American League teams (regular season) #Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 1, 2019
Brach issued a walk to lead off the M’s eighth but got out of it with a double play, and then Steve Cishek was called on to face Mitch Haniger, who he struck out. The Cubs didn’t score in the ninth, and then Pedro... oh, wait, Pedro Strop wasn’t available after having thrown two innings and 26 pitches on Sunday.
So it’s Cishek’s game. He pitched for the Mariners three years ago, in fact, posted 25 saves for them in 2016, so he’s been in this ballpark many times before, trying to lock down the ninth inning.
You know, it’s a good thing there’s no video available of the play I’m about to describe to you because I don’t think I want to see it again. Cishek induced a comebacker from Domingo Santana. Then he booted it. Santana isn’t fast and so there’s still a chance to get him even afte that, but Cishek bounced the throw in the general direction of Rizzo and then did a faceplant.
They say if you watch enough baseball, you will see things you have never seen before. That’s one of those things. I think you’ll agree with me that none of us ever wants to see that again.
Then Cishek walked Encarnacion. Fortunately, he got Beckham to hit into a double play, but now the tying run is on third base with Bruce at bat. Cishek ran the count full and the number six pitch here is the one plate umpire Mark Wegner called Bruce out on strikes:
That’s about as close as they come, but we’ll take it. Here’s some video from Cishek on his ninth inning (via Jesse Rogers). Cishek posted his first save of the season and fifth as a Cub.
As I said, the game was certainly entertaining and the majority of the 27,545 at T-Mobile Park enjoyed it — if you saw the game, you certainly heard how loud all the Cubs fans were, and they seemed about 60 percent of the house. Thanks to BCBers qrtqrt and discubobulated for stopping by to say hi, and I know there were a couple others whose names I didn’t get and I appreciated that as well. I’ll be in the same location for Wednesday’s game.
The Cubs have won three straight for the third time this year (the first such streak was extended to four), and are three games over .500 for the first time in 2019. They’ll go for the sweep Wednesday afternoon in a game that starts at 5:40 p.m. CT (3:40 in Seattle). Jon Lester, a native of nearby Tacoma, will start for the Cubs and our old Cardinals rival Marco Gonzales will go for the Mariners. TV coverage Wednesday will be via WGN.