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.
That ball was CRUSHED!
The slam tied a franchise record:
Kyle Schwarber's grand slam is the 9th by the #Cubs this season, tying their franchise record for most grand slams in a season set in 1929.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 6, 2019
Nine slams this season (in order of appearance) by...— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 6, 2019
Albert Almora Jr.
Both of Schwarber's slams came here in Milwaukee.
About that last line:
Kyle Schwarber is the first #Cubs player to hit 2 grand slams in the same opposing ballpark in the same season since Sammy Sosa did it July 27-28, 1998 at Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 6, 2019
Those were Sosa's first 2 career grand slams after hitting 246 home runs without one.
Also, Schwarber moved up on the Cubs all-time lefthanded hitter homer list with that one:
Most HR in a season by a #Cubs lefty— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 6, 2019
42 Billy Williams 1970
37 Billy Williams 1972
34 KYLE SCHWARBER 2019
34 Billy Williams 1965
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:
Ben Zobrist is the first #Cubs leadoff hitter to reach 5 times in a game since Zobrist did it September 13, 2017 (2 hits, 3 walks)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 6, 2019
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:
Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson, on the Cubs’ lineup and Ben Zobrist’s impact on it... pic.twitter.com/0auI8QjYVe— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 6, 2019
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:
Tonight is the 3rd time Willson Contreras has had 3 or more extra-base hits in a game.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 6, 2019
Also May 9, 2018 vs Marlins & May 11, 2018 vs White Sox (consecutive games)#Cubs
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:
So summing up Chicago sports tonight:— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) September 6, 2019
Ben Zobrist scored as many "points" (3) by himself as the entire Bears team?
And Kyle Schwarber drove in more than the Bears offense with just 1 swing of the bat?