This weekend, Cubs hitters turned the tables on that, hitting 14 home runs in four games against the Reds, six of them Sunday in a 10-1 blowout of the Reds. Three Cubs — Jason Heyward, Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber — hit two each.
The power barrage didn’t start until the fourth inning, by which time Tyler Chatwood had to leave the game. Which is really a shame, because he seemed to have righted the ship that was sinking over his last two starts. Chatwood had reached one out in the third, allowing just two singles — importantly, with no walks — when he threw a pitch and immediately signaled to the dugout [VIDEO].
Here’s what he’s dealing with:
Cubs announced that Tyler Chatwood exited with "right elbow discomfort," noting that the pitcher will be further evaluated on Monday's off-day.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 30, 2020
Hopefully, it’s nothing serious, but “right elbow discomfort” is never a good thing for a pitcher. Chatwood’s velocity was down Sunday afternoon:
Here's a look at Chatwood's velo today in Cincy. Was sitting 92-93 mph with sinkers/four-seamers, but dropped down to 90-91 range at times. pic.twitter.com/TCAwl72Qe7— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 30, 2020
Colin Rea wrapped up things in the third inning and then the Cubs got the big bats to work. Schwarber got it going leading off the fourth [VIDEO].
That ball — repeat after me — was crushed!
One out later, it was Heyward’s turn [VIDEO].
Jose Quintana relieved Rea and threw an efficient fourth (as well as fifth and sixth, striking out six in his three innings) and then the Cubs got the bats going again. In the fifth, Nico Hoerner led off by being hit by a pitch.
Ian Happ, come on down! [VIDEO]
Now it’s 4-0. Ready for another Heyward blast? [VIDEO]
Heyward is the hottest hitter on the team right now. On this road trip he’s 8-for-19 (.421/.542/1.105) with two doubles, a triple, three home runs and five runs scored. That should make him a top candidate for NL Player of the Week. It was the ninth two-homer game of Heyward’s career. More on Heyward’s hot hitting:
Following *another* home run, Jason Heyward is now slashing .370/.508/.804 in his last 18 games (61 PAs), through 3 PAs (walk, two homers) today. He has boosted his season OPS to .966 from .501 in that span, dating back to Aug. 11.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 30, 2020
I am really happy for Heyward, who has struggled mightily at times during his Cubs career. He’s always provided plus defense, and has never complained, always worked hard, appears to be a great teammate and a quality human being. It should be noted that in the first three years of his Cubs career, he missed quite a few games with injuries. Last year was the most games he’d played as a Cub (147) and it showed with his best offensive season in blue pinstripes. He could exceed that in 2020, even with the shortened season.
Not wanting to be left out, Happ added a second blast of his own in the seventh [VIDEO].
Joey Votto homered off Quintana for the Reds’ only run of the game.
In the ninth, the Cubs loaded the bases on walks (one intentional), and then it was Schwarber’s turn to join Sunday’s two-homer club [VIDEO].
That one went even farther than Schwarber’s first one!
Ryan Tepera, Kyle Ryan and Duane Underwood Jr. finished things off without incident. Tepera got bailed out of a bases-loaded situation in the seventh on this great catch by Hoerner [VIDEO].
Historical notes: This was the ninth time a Cubs team had hit six home runs in a road game. Here are the previous eight:
|8||1936-07-26 (2)||CHC||PHI||W 18-5||54||50||18||23||2||0||6|
This is 1st time since 4/16/1955 that the Cubs had 3 players launch 2+ homers in the same game. In that one: Ernie Banks, Randy Jackson and Dee Fondy.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 30, 2020
Today: Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Ian Happ.
It ties an MLB record, done multiple times, going back to 1901.
Stat of the day: Cubs outfielders have as many home runs today as the Indians do from their OF ALL SEASON.— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) August 30, 2020
The power surge came at the best possible time. The Cubs had struggled to score runs near the end of the most recent homestand, but have scored 32 on this road trip so far and have always hit well in PNC Park, the next stop.
At this writing, the Cardinals have won their Sunday game and the Brewers are losing. If the Milwaukee score holds up, the Cubs will end the afternoon with a 3½-game lead over St. Louis, a 4½-game lead over Milwaukee and a five-game lead over Cincinnati. As mediocre as they’ve been (7-11) since their 13-3 start, they have not had a division lead of fewer than three games since August 2, four weeks ago.
After going 5-2 in July, the Cubs went 15-12 in August. They have 26 games remaining. 15-11 would get them to 35-25. They seem in control of the division and likely headed for the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NL playoffs, barring a complete collapse.
The Cubs will spend their off day at home in Chicago and then head to Pittsburgh for a three-game set beginning Tuesday night. Jon Lester will start for the Cubs and Chad Kuhl will go for the Pirates. Game time Tuesday is 6:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.
In the meantime, stick around tomorrow to see if the Cubs make any more trades before Monday’s deadline, which is 3 p.m. CT. They could still use some relief help. As always, we await developments.