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Cubs 10, Brewers 5: Kyle Schwarber slams the Cubs to victory

The Cubs took care of business in the first game of a key road trip.

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Seriously, you should have watched this game instead of that other Chicago vs. Wisconsin matchup Thursday night. If you had done so, you’d likely be in a much better mood this morning. If you did watch the NFL game, let me tell you what you missed.

The Cubs brought out their big bats and trounced the Brewers 10-5, led by Kyle Schwarber’s grand slam and a stellar day leading off from Ben Zobrist. It was the Cubs’ third straight win and their sixth consecutive victory in a road game.

Zobrist worked a four-pitch walk leading off the first inning, and advanced to second on another walk after a pair of strikeouts. That brought Willson Contreras to the plate [VIDEO].

Contreras’ double made it 1-0 Cubs, and it is not a coincidence that the return of Willson and Ben to the lineup has seemed to energize things.

Jose Quintana, who had been brilliant last Friday against these same Brewers, struggled in this one. He served up a two-run homer to Hernan Perez in the second inning to give the Brewers the lead.

In the fourth, Contreras brought out the big bat again [VIDEO].

If you’re keeping track — and why wouldn’t you? — that’s two homers for Willson in two games since his return from the injured list.

In the fifth, Zobrist walked again and Nicholas Castellanos followed with a single. One out later, Anthony Rizzo drove them both home [VIDEO].

Look at the very beginning of that clip. It’s a 1-2 count. Rizzo chokes up on the bat — you almost never see anyone else do that. And he’s often successful with it, as he was in that inning. It’s now 4-2 Cubs, but Q couldn’t hold the lead. A single and a two-run homer by Yasmani Grandal tied the game in the bottom of the inning, and Quintana barely held on to get the last out. He threw 102 pitches. It wasn’t a terrible outing, but it wasn’t that good, either.

The Cubs offense made sure that didn’t matter in the very next inning. David Bote, batting for Q, dribbled a little infield hit. Zobrist followed with a single, his fourth time on base. One out later, Kris Bryant drew a walk to load the bases. Rizzo gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].

That doesn’t look like a key play, but it was. Check out the end of the clip. Christian Yelich could have doubled Zobrist off second — Ben had strayed too far toward third. Instead, Yelich threw home and Bote scored easily. Had Yelich gone to second, the inning would have been over with no runs scoring at all, because Zobrist would have been out before Bote crossed the plate. Here’s what the Brewers broadcast team said about that play [VIDEO].

Instead, it’s 5-4 Cubs, and Contreras followed that with an infield hit, re-loading the bases.

Schwarber then cleared ‘em on the first pitch he saw. [VIDEO]

That ball was CRUSHED!

The slam tied a franchise record:

About that last line:

Also, Schwarber moved up on the Cubs all-time lefthanded hitter homer list with that one:

It’s now 9-4 Cubs. Here’s what Schwarber said about the slam after the game [VIDEO].

Brad Wieck relieved Quintana and served up a solo homer to Cory Spangenberg in the sixth. After that Cubs relievers David Phelps, Kyle Ryan and Derek Holland kept the Brewers off the board, and Bote got that run back in the ninth [VIDEO].

That’s a nice way to return from... wherever he was after he was optioned last Saturday... for Bote, who singled and homered and scored twice after entering the game in the sixth inning.

Let’s talk a bit about Zobrist and his production from the leadoff spot in the two games he’s played. Yes, this is an extremely small sample size, but:

That seems important, right?

In two games since his return, Zobrist is 4-for-6 with three walks (.778 OBP) and five runs scored.

I know management has said Zobrist won’t necessarily play every day, but with production like that — why not ride it as long as you can? He had a .596 OPS when he came back. Even with all four hits being singles that OPS has increased to .661 in just two games. If you think Zobrist doesn’t matter that much, read this from Brewers starter Chase Anderson:

That seems important, right?

This was a great team win, the kind of win we’ve been accustomed to seeing for many of the last five years. Getting Zobrist and Contreras back in the lineup has seemed to energize the entire ballclub. More of this sort of thing, please:

The Cubs trail the Cardinals by 2½ games in the N.L. Central entering Friday’s action. The Cardinals will be opening a series at Pittsburgh Friday evening while the Cubs continue in Milwaukee. And the Cubs now trail the Nationals by two games for the top wild-card spot, as Washington lost to the Braves Thursday evening. That series in Atlanta also continues Friday. And, this win put the Cubs at their high-water mark for 2019 at 13 games over .500.

They’ll have a chance to make that 14 over in the second of this four-game set at Milwaukee. Cole Hamels will start for the Cubs Friday and Zach Davies will go for the Brewers. Game time is 7:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago.

And a final note about this game and the Bears game: