I’m going to give you a moment here to pause and really savor the Cubs’ 13-5 win over the Cardinals, their seventh in a row. It completed a three-game sweep of the Cubs’ biggest rivals.
Feels pretty good, doesn’t it? The Cubs carved up the Cardinals in many ways over the weekend, from Kyle Hendricks’ dominance Friday to Taylor Davis’ slam and the comeback Saturday, to this blowout victory Sunday.
The win put the Cubs in first place in the N.L. Central with the best winning percentage in the N.L. (.611, two points ahead of the Dodgers), and their +51 run differential is the best in the major leagues.
Let’s unpack this one!
Jose Quintana wasn’t totally dominant in the early innings. He gave up five hits in the first four innings, but the Cardinals kept running themselves out of the game. Paul Goldschmidt singled in the first but was thrown out trying to steal. In the third, Matt Carpenter singled with one out. Goldschmidt followed with a single to left and Carpenter dared to run on Ben Zobrist [VIDEO].
I mean, sure, Zobrist is within a few weeks of his 38th birthday and not the player he once was, but that was a strong and accurate throw and Carpenter was out by... a lot.
When that happened, the Cubs were up 1-0 thanks to Willson Contreras [VIDEO].
In this launch-angle era, check out the angle on that one:
Willson Contreras (10) off RHP Adam Wainwright (10) - 106.5 mph, 32 degrees (419 ft Home Run)— MLBBarrelAlert (@MLBBarrelAlert) May 5, 2019
90.6 mph Sinker#STLCards @ #Cubs (B2) pic.twitter.com/TUnOeaum9r
That was Willson’s ninth home run of the season. He hit 10 all of last year.
Zobrist helped the Cubs out yet again in the fourth with a nifty diving catch on a sinking liner hit by Yadier Molina, and you are going to have to take my word for that, because for some reason ESPN didn’t supply a highlight video. But here’s the degree of difficulty on that grab:
Ben Zobrist -- already with an assist for throwing out Carpenter trying to go 1B->3B in 3rd -- makes a running, lunging catch to rob Yadi of a hit in the 4th. Play had 45% catch probability per Statcast (4-Star catch).— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 6, 2019
In the fifth, Contreras led off with a walk and that brought up former Cardinal Jason Heyward [VIDEO].
Humorous note on that RBI triple from Jordan Bastian:
So close. That’s an RBI triple for the Cubs’ Jason Heyward, just by the glove of Cards center fielder Dexter Fowler in the 5th. A 2015 baseball fan would be very confused. pic.twitter.com/kJrgFZGson— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 6, 2019
A sac fly followed from David Bote and the Cubs led 3-0. By this time Quintana was cruising, though in the sixth he got touched up for a pair of singles and a two-out double from Molina, making it 3-2. Q got out of the inning and wound up with a good six-inning, two-run start, departing with the Cubs leading 6-2 after a three-run sixth highlighted by this two-run double into the gap [VIDEO] by Anthony Rizzo.
Brandon Kintzler threw a scoreless seventh and the Cubs tacked on another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Zobrist, who was 2-for-4 with a walk and the two stellar defensive plays.
Steve Cishek threw a scoreless eighth and then the Cubs pounded hapless Dominic Leone in the eighth, all the scoring coming after two were out. Bote and Albert Almora Jr. hit RBI doubles and Leone walked pinch-hitter Mark Zagunis and Zobrist to load the bases.
KB has been hitting the ball hard recently with little to show for it, but that ball was crushed!
Kris Bryant (9) off RHP Dominic Leone (6) - 100.6 mph, 30 degrees (417 ft Home Run)— MLBBarrelAlert (@MLBBarrelAlert) May 6, 2019
93.9 mph Four-Seamer#STLCards @ #Cubs (B8) pic.twitter.com/m8VR285Zl0
More fun facts on Bryant’s fourth homer of the year and first grand slam since he hit one in Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter against the Reds more than three years ago:
#Cubs: first time with 2 grand slams in same series since Anthony Rizzo & Miguel Montero Sept 4 & 6, 2015 vs Diamondbacks— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 6, 2019
First time with grand slam in consecutive games since Travis Wood May 30, 2013 vs White Sox & Scott Hairston May 31, 2013 vs DBacks
That completed the Cubs scoring and made the score 13-2 and I was going to slam the complaint department door shut and lock it up tight, but it’s got to remain open just a tad after Tyler Chatwood’s ninth inning. The best thing I can say about Chatwood’s inning is that he didn’t walk anyone and threw 16 strikes in 25 pitches. Unfortunately, two of those pitches wound up in the seats for home runs by Paul DeJong and Marcell Ozuna, the first with a runner on, making it 13-5. This did not stop the crowd from chanting “Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!” as the final out was recorded.
It was the Cubs’ first sweep of the Cardinals since September 15-16-17, 2017, and put the Cubs in the top spot in the N.L. Central for the first time since they were 1-0 after their Opening Day win at Texas. That, of course, was followed by a six-game losing streak. But since that 1-6 start the Cubs are on an 18-6 roll and ride this seven-game winning streak into a Wrigley series against the Marlins, who have the worst record in the major leagues.
Good times. I’ll give the last words here to Rizzo [VIDEO].
And, of course, a few thoughts from Joe Maddon are always fun:
Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on the offense: "There's a lot of chicken left on the bone, man. There's a lot more to do here and these guys are definitely pointing in the right direction."— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 6, 2019
Cubs 13, Cards 5— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 6, 2019
Maddon: "Whenever I've been with a team that's gotten in a hole, I've always thought about one game a week. Try to pick up one a week. Then you get back to normalcy."
April 6: 5.5 GB (1-6)
April 13: 3.5 GB
April 20: 2.5 GB
April 27: 2.5 GB
Today: 0.0 GB (19-12)
Lastly, one more fun fact about a Cub having a terrific start to his 2019 season:
Players with 10+ Doubles & 10+ Home Runs through the team's first 31 games of a season, #Cubs history:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 6, 2019
This guy in 2019. That's it. pic.twitter.com/4YvkTmMQE7
The Cubs can pick up more ground beginning tonight, when the aforementioned Marlins come to Wrigley Field for the first of a four-game series. Cole Hamels will start for the Cubs against Miami’s Sandy Alcantara. Game time is 7:05 p.m. CT (weather permitting) and TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago Plus.