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Cubs 11, Mariners 0: Sweep-ness in Seattle

The complaint department is closed and locked up tight after this win.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — I’m going to begin this recap of the Cubs’ 11-0 blowout win over the Mariners Wednesday afternoon by quoting the beginning of the game preview:

Here is what I would like for this afternoon’s game: A win, with less drama than Tuesday night.

I think we can say we got that, with just about everything going the Cubs’ way.

It started out weirdly. David Bote, usually sure-handed, made his second error in as many games on a ball that should have been a routine out, but he overthrew Anthony Rizzo. Jon Lester, though, retired the side without incident in the bottom of the first.

And then the Cubs offense exploded.

First, Javier Baez, to the opposite field [VIDEO].

That ball: Crushed!

(That was Javy’s 10th, not his 13th, but I like the optimism.)

Then things came fast and furious. Willson Contreras singled, then Kyle Schwarber laid down a perfect bunt that rolled to a stop on the grass about 40 feet from the plate and about two inches from the foul-line dirt. Then Domingo Santana muffed what should have been an easy catch on a line drive by Bote and the bases were loaded, and that seemed to unnerve Marco Gonzales. Jason Heyward singled in a run to make it 2-0 and Ben Zobrist walked to make it 3-0. After Albert Almora Jr. struck out, Kris Bryant drew another bases-loaded walk, 4-0. A sac fly by Anthony Rizzo put the fifth run on the board, bringing up Baez again. He doubled in Zobrist for the final run of the inning.

In all, 12 Cubs batted in the inning and six runs scored on five hits and after that, it was all Jon Lester.

Ryon Healy blooped a single [VIDEO] just out of reach of Zobrist with one out in the second.

That was the only Mariners hit of the afternoon, and after that, Lester retired five straight Mariners before walking Edwin Encarnacion to lead off the fourth, Seattle’s final baserunner of the day. It was the Cubs’ first one-hitter since June 9, 2018, a 2-0 win over the Pirates at Wrigley started by... Jon Lester.

In between all that, the Cubs had scored another run on a sac fly by Zobrist in the third, and two more in the fourth. Long balls again! First, Rizzo [VIDEO].

That was Anthony’s seventh of the year, and he has started May out on a good note, going 1-for-3 with the homer and two RBI. He’s a hot hitter at the moment:

Two batters later, Contreras sent a baseball into orbit [VIDEO].

You can see Santana taking about three steps and then watching that baseball land in the second deck, crushed!

The Cubs aren’t just hitting home runs, they are demolishing baseballs and hitting 430- or 440-foot blasts with regularity. Contreras went 2-for-3 with the homer, two runs scored and two RBI.

After that walk in the fourth inning, Lester set down the final 12 hitters he faced, the last one, Healy in the seventh, on a call the Cubs challenged and got overturned [VIDEO].

The ruling on the field was that the ball was trapped, and you can see Heyward begin to run off the field — so did the rest of the team, because they all saw what the review crew did. It did bounce — off the bottom of Heyward’s glove and right into it, never hitting the ground. Nice call by the review crew, and that’s an outstanding play by Heyward, not just to catch that ball but at that moment, the sun was blazing directly into a right fielder’s eyes. J-Hey has not only been great at the plate this year (and was 3-for-4 in this one), his defense has returned to its pre-2018 level, great to see.

I thought at 97 pitches Lester might have come back out for the eighth, but Joe Maddon apparently felt it was better to rest his lefty for the rest of the game, so Allen Webster entered for the eighth and dispatched the Mariners on only eight pitches, and then Mariners catcher Tom Murphy pitched the ninth, the second time on this trip the Cubs have faced a position player pitching:

They began the inning with a walk by Taylor Davis, who relieved Rizzo at first base in the seventh, and a double by Baez, his third hit of the game. Two sacrifice flies completed the scoring. Fun sac fly fact:

Then Dillon Maples entered to throw the ninth.

This, this is what Dillon Maples can be. Granted that it was in an extremely low-leverage situation, but he trusted his fastball and threw it mostly for strikes, touching 98 on several pitches, and then got Mariners hitters on his knee-bending slider that hit 91 on the stadium radar gun. He did run full counts on the last two hitters, finishing up with a 17-pitch inning, but he was mostly around the zone. This is very, very encouraging, probably the best Maples has thrown since he’s been a Cub. More, please.

The 11-run margin of victory was the Cubs’ biggest since a 14-2 win over the Marlins May 7, 2018 at Wrigley Field and their biggest on the road since a 16-5 thrashing of the Rockies in Denver, April 20, 2018.

And so the Cubs reach four games over .500 for the first time this year, and complete a 4-1 road trip. After the 2-7 start on the road, the Cubs are now 7-1 in their last eight road games (including the sweep in Miami last month) and overall have gone 14-5 since that bad start to the season. The Cardinals also won Wednesday, so the Cubs still trail them by three games. St. Louis will play at Washington Thursday, so a Nats win could help out the Cubs.

All in all, this was a fine trip to Seattle for the Cubs, and also for me, my first visit to the Mariners’ home park. The city’s great, lots of things to see and do, people are friendly, the ballpark is very nice and road wins are always nice things to have. It was also good to meet some BCBers who came to this series — today it was explosiononimpact who stopped by pre-game. This tweet sums up how many Cubs fans were at this series:

And the Cubs seem ready to take on the Cardinals in the first meeting of 2019 between the two division rivals. It’s been rainy and dismal this week in Chicago, but the weather forecast for Friday and beyond is much better, and crowds should be big this weekend.

Friday, Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs against Jack Flaherty. Game time Friday is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago.