All should be puppies and rainbows in Cubs-land after their solid 4-1 win over the Brewers on yet another perfect weather day at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon, but unfortunately we have to deal with another injury to Willson Contreras.
Leading off the seventh inning in a game tied 1-1, Contreras lofted a ball into left-center that was run down by Lorenzo Cain. Contreras pulled up short of first base, hopping around [VIDEO].
That didn’t look good; Contreras did walk off under his own power, slowly, unlike two years ago in San Francisco where he hurt a hamstring and had to be helped off the field. Nevertheless, we’re looking at an IL stint:
Maddon: Contreras will have MRI Monday on his right hamstring. No further information right now.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 3, 2019
Maddon wouldn’t tip his hand, but expect Cubs to add a catcher Sunday. For now, Contreras injury described as a hamstring strain. Info/timetable details likely to come Monday.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 3, 2019
Right here and now, before I get to the rest of this game, I’ll come right out and say it: The Cubs, if they can, should claim Jonathan Lucroy on waivers. He was designated for assignment by the Angels Friday. Lucroy hasn’t had a great year and earlier this season was involved in this scary collision [VIDEO].
Lucroy isn’t the player he once was with the Brewers and granted, he’s coming off a concussion. But he can still hit, a little, and he’d be a far better backup than Taylor Davis, who right now is the Cubs’ only option to back up Victor Caratini. The Cubs, perhaps fortuitously, opened a spot on the 40-man roster with the DFA of Brad Brach earlier Saturday, so they’ve got room.
Get it done, Theo.
Now back to the game, which was outstandingly played by the Cubs both pitching-wise and on offense, where they had some nice rallies that did not rely on a home run.
Cole Hamels was outstanding in his five innings Saturday. He was lifted after 74 pitches, partly because he was likely on a pitch limit given that this was his first start back from an oblique injury, and partly because the Cubs were up only 1-0 at the time and wanted to generate some offense with Hamels scheduled to lead off the last of the fifth. It was great to see him utterly in control for those five innings, though: four hits, no walks, six strikeouts, no Brewers runner past first base.
Meanwhile, the Cubs took that 1-0 lead in the second inning. Javier Baez led off with a triple and then, during Albert Almora Jr.’s at-bat ... [VIDEO]
Javy took a chance there as the ball didn’t get that far from Manny Pina, but he slid in safely as the ball was just kind of lobbed toward Gio Gonzalez covering the plate.
The Cubs couldn’t do much with Gio, though. Nicholas Castellanos doubled with one out in the third, Almora singled twice but never got past first base and Tony Kemp, batting for Hamels, bunted his way on in the fifth, but that was pretty much all they had off Gio.
In the sixth, David Phelps relieved Hamels and was a bit shaky. An infield single (called out on the field, overturned on review) and a walk put Cain in scoring position with nobody out. Phelps retired the next two hitters, but Ryan Braun singled in the tying run. After that, Derek Holland was summoned to face Mike Moustakas. Holland got Moose to hit into a force play. This is exactly how Holland should be used the rest of the year.
Rowan Wick threw a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts and then the Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the inning. We’ve already covered Contreras’ leadoff fly ball — on which Cain made a nice running catch — and Almora batted next [VIDEO].
Almora’s 12th of the year, into the basket, gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
Kyle Ryan and Steve Cishek handled the Brewers 1-2-3 on just 12 pitches in the eighth, and then the Cubs got to work on a nice little rally in the bottom of the inning. Castellanos led off with a single, and one out later Anthony Rizzo walked. That brought up Baez [VIDEO].
Javy’s seeing-eye single made it 3-1 and put Rizzo on third, where after a walk to Kyle Schwarber (batting for Cishek), Almora hit a sacrifice fly making it 4-1. It was a nice day at the plate for AA, who went 3-for-3 with the homer and sac fly. Love seeing that.
This is how weird these two home games have been compared to the team on the road:
It really is. This lineup looks near-unstoppable at home. They've scored 10 runs in 16 innings the last 2 days and could've easily gone for more. Even their outs are hit hard. https://t.co/GN1hguIWUm— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) August 3, 2019
I don’t get it either. I don’t think Cubs management gets it. They’d better figure it out soon, though.
Craig Kimbrel entered to a loud ovation and took care of the Brewers fairly easily, despite a two-out double by Eric Thames. Kimbrel threw just 10 pitches, eight for strikes, and was hitting 97 on the Wrigley pitch speed meter. That’s the Kimbrel we thought the Cubs were getting; hopefully more of this will follow. That’s nine saves for Kimbrel.
Here’s an interesting comment from Joe Maddon:
Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on Nick Castellanos' aggressiveness on the field since joining the team:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 3, 2019
"It's reminding us what hunger looks like."
He’s right. This game (and Friday’s) felt different, seemed to be played with more of a sense of urgency. If that’s what it took... more, please.
So pending the Cardinals’ night game at Oakland, the Cubs and Cardinals are tied for first place in the N.L. Central. The Brewers trail both teams by three games.
Sunday, the Cubs go for the series sweep with Yu Darvish on the mound. Adrian Houser will start for Milwaukee. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via WGN, with a national broadcast (blacked out in the Cubs market territory, should be available everywhere else) on TBS.
The Cubs could use a catcher in a hurry. Who should replace Willson Contreras when he goes on the IL?
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Someone else (leave in comments)