Didn’t I tell you that this team would start hitting? That they couldn’t possibly be as bad as they looked for the first two weeks of the season?
After losing to the Braves 5-2 a week ago, the Cubs were 5-8 with a run differential of -25.
Since then? They’ve scored at least 13 runs three times and gone 5-1 with a run differential of +28. So that’s completely wiped out the negative run differential of a week ago, and then some, and with the 15-2 drubbing of the Brewers Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, their fourth consecutive victory, the Cubs are back over .500 for the first time since they were 4-3 on April 8. They also moved to within one game of the first-place Brewers with this win.
There’s a lot to unpack from this game, so let’s get to it!
Kyle Hendricks had an uneventful first inning and after Willson Contreras grounded out to start the bottom of the inning, the bats got going. Kris Bryant doubled and Anthony Rizzo doubled him in [VIDEO].
Javier Baez followed with a single moving Rizzo to third. After Baez’s hit, Brewers starter Brett Anderson left the game with what was later termed “right knee discomfort.” Josh Lindblom relieved Anderson and kept the Cubs’ hit parade going. David Bote made it 2-0 [VIDEO].
The score didn’t remain that way long. Jason Heyward walked to load the bases, and Jake Marisnick cleared them [VIDEO].
The Cubs still weren’t done. Nico Hoerner became the seventh straight Cub to reach base in the inning, doubling in Marisnick to make it 6-0 [VIDEO].
Six runs in the inning and not a home run in sight.
The Cubs made up for that in the second. With one out, Anthony Rizzo went deep [VIDEO].
A lesson for every hitter there. Rizzo choked up on the bat, as he often does with two strikes, and still yanked the ball out of the yard.
Javy sent Lindblom’s very next pitch into the left-field bleachers [VIDEO].
That ball was crushed!
The Cubs weren’t done in the inning, either. Bote walked and it was Jason Heyward’s turn to join in the fun [VIDEO].
That didn’t miss leaving the yard by much; Heyward settled for an RBI triple, and Marisnick’s RBI groundout put the Cubs in double figures at 10-0 — with one out in the second inning.
That was all the damage for a couple of innings, while Hendricks was mowing down Brewers hitters, helped in part by this slick double play started by Javy [VIDEO].
The Cubs added one more in the fourth off Lindblom with two out — Marisnick going deep [VIDEO].
That’s two hits and five RBI for Marisnick, who’s looking like a real good signing. That ball was a laser beam:
Remember in November 2019 when I wrote that the Cubs should consider signing Lindblom? Glad they didn’t, he wasn’t great in 2020 and has been downright awful so far in 2021.
Hendricks ran out of gas in a 40-pitch sixth inning in which he was touched up for solo homers by Kolten Wong and Billy McKinney, but overall his outing was solid: six innings, two runs, six strikeouts. The homers are a bit concerning; he’s allowed seven in just 19 innings this season. Hopefully that settles down as the year goes forward.
The Cubs weren’t done scoring runs. In the sixth, Heyward walked and Marisnick was hit by a pitch. Austin Romine, batting for Hendricks, plated J-Hey [VIDEO].
And then Contreras — who had been the only starting player without a hit through five innings — joined the hit parade in a big way [VIDEO].
Check out the guy in the red hoodie making a nice on-the-fly catch of Contreras’ three-run homer, which completed the Cubs’ scoring for the afternoon.
Kyle Ryan, who had just been recalled Friday from the alternate site after missing all of spring training on the COVID-19 list, threw two efficient innings. My guess is that Ryan returns to the alternate site when Adbert Alzolay is recalled to start Saturday’s game. Dillon Maples finished up with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth, and the Cubs had their biggest blowout win since September 14, 2019, when they demolished the Pirates 14-1.
The Brewers finished up with infielder Daniel Robertson pitching, and he held the Cubs scoreless in the eighth. Pity. I’d have loved to see Daniel Vogelbach on the mound. That would have been must-see TV.
Now, we certainly can’t expect the Cubs to put up double figures in runs this often. But this offense is filled with quality MLB hitters who are finally playing up to their capabilities. This game featured a good long-sequence inning (the first, six runs without a home run) and a pair of four-run innings that did have long balls. That’s what this team is capable of and I expect to see more of it going forward.
As noted, Adbert Alzolay will return to the big leagues to start Saturday’s game for the Cubs. Freddy Peralta will start for the Brewers. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.