I always knew the 2021 Chicago Cubs had talent, and that their awful April wasn’t reflective of that talent.
What I didn’t know — and you likely didn’t either — was that they had backups to the backups to that talent and those guys would produce, too.
The Cubs got a total team effort again on a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field and completed a three-game sweep of a banged-up Padres ballclub with a decisive 6-1 win.
Think these Cubs can’t compete with the teams in the NL West? 6-0 so far against teams in that division. Let’s get to the details of today’s victory.
Adbert Alzolay, who seems to get better and more confident with each start, breezed through the first three innings, allowing just a one-out single in the first. He got touched up for a run in the third on a single, two-out walk and RBI single by Ha-Seong Kim, and the Padres took a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs got that run right back in the bottom of the fourth. Anthony Rizzo singled with one out and Patrick Wisdom singled him to third. The next hitter was Rafael Ortega [VIDEO].
The Padres fielders didn’t seem to know what to do with the ball; Rizzo scored and Wisdom took second.
Eric Sogard singled to load the bases, and P.J. Higgins came to the plate, and what happened next was truly frightening [VIDEO].
What is truly unbelievable about that play is that Kim had the presence of mind, even after that scary collision, to pick up the ball and relay it to third baseman Manny Machado. Other than Wisdom, Cubs runners froze on the play, because it appeared the ball was going to be caught. Machado was thus able to complete an inning-ending double play.
Then Padres staff and coaches came out to tend to Kim and Tommy Pham, who were both on the ground for a very long time. Both eventually got up and walked off the field under their own power, which was good, but both left the game. Here’s an update on their condition:
Sounds like Ha-Seong Kim may have avoided a concussion after going through protocols. Tommy Pham, meanwhile, had stitches on his chin and will get a CT scan on his jaw when the team gets back to San Diego.— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) June 2, 2021
As I said, that was really scary. This sure could have ended up much worse, and I’m glad these players seem to be mostly OK.
Baseball resumed, and Alzolay got through the fifth unscathed. He likely could have thrown another inning, but in a 1-1 tie David Ross wanted more offense and got it. Nick Martini batted for Alzolay and walked. Joc Pederson also drew a walk, but the next two Cubs were routine outs.
Watch Rizzo’s reaction — he is fired up!
The Cubs bullpen has been outstanding and they were again on this day. Rex Brothers threw a 1-2-3 sixth and after the Cubs didn’t score in the bottom of the inning, Brad Wieck and Tommy Nance worked around a single and walk for a scoreless seventh. During that top of the seventh, there was a brief interruption, and this is the only correct reaction:
Idiot on the field delay here in the 7th inning.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 2, 2021
Seriously, people, do not do that. It is now a felony in the city of Chicago. Stay off the field. Please.
Back to baseball again: The Cubs broke the game open in the bottom of the seventh. Sergio Alcantara, who had double-switched into the game when Nance entered, tripled down the line leading off.
You know, the rap on Alcantara in Detroit was that he was good-field, no-hit. He’s 4-for-6 with three extra-base hits since joining the Cubs. Small sample size, but if Alcantara has figured out how to hit big-league pitching, he’s a very valuable guy to have around.
Joc Pederson then grounded to short, and Ian Happ’s ground ball scored Alcantara [VIDEO].
Jake Cronenworth’s error on the play allowed Happ to reach base, and then Javy put the game away [VIDEO].
I can’t even...
A 20-degree launch angle? Almost impossible to get a baseball out of the yard doing that, but Javy did. You can see the ball bounce off the top of the ribbon board; it landed on the back concourse of the bleachers, where a friend of mine grabbed it.
Dan Winkler finished up with two scoreless innings (and his first plate appearance since 2018!), though you could tell he was running out of gas near the end of his 35-pitch outing. All told for the pen: Four innings, three hits, no runs, three walks, three strikeouts.
This team is clicking everywhere: Starting pitching, relief pitching, offense, defense. The complaint department is definitely closed and locked up tight. Since losing two straight in Cleveland to drop to 17-19, the Cubs are 15-4, the hottest team in the NL over that span (the Rays are an even better 16-2). The Cubs are now 21-10 at home, a .677 winning percentage which would give them 55 home wins in a full season. The 21 wins are the most by any MLB team in its home park, through Wednesday.
They’ll need to keep doing this to win on their upcoming West Coast trip. The Cubs have played better on the road lately, but they will be facing two good teams in the Giants and then a rematch with the Padres, so ... just keep doing what you’ve been doing, guys!
Thursday’s series opener in San Francisco will feature Zach Davies starting for the Cubs and their former Reds rival Anthony DeSclafani scheduled to go for the Giants. Game time Thursday is 8:45 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.