Shutdown starting pitching? Check.
Home runs from Cubs batters? Check.
All of that meshed well Tuesday night in San Diego and the Cubs defeated the Padres 7-1, giving them a chance to actually win this series Wednesday afternoon. (More on that later.)
Zach Davies, who’s been very good since the beginning of May, was excellent on this night against his 2020 team. He allowed just one hit, a fourth-inning single by Fernando Tatis Jr., issued two walks and struck out four. Davies really isn’t a strikeout pitcher — he’s struck out four or more just four times in 12 starts this year — but he was pounding the zone really well in this game:
"Best pitching performance I've seen him have," Cubs manager David Ross said of Zach Davies. "He really hammered the bottom of the zone." pic.twitter.com/KaxEhx0xrK— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 9, 2021
While all this was going on, the Cubs were putting together a nice power display. First up, Willson Contreras, top of the fourth [VIDEO].
That ball made the second deck!
#Cubs 1 @ #Padres 0 [T4-1o]:— Home Run Tracker (@DingerTracker) June 9, 2021
Willson Contreras homers (10): fly ball to LCF (solo)
Hit: 419ft, 108.5mph, 29°
Pitch: 88.2mph Slider (RHP Dinelson Lamet, 2)
The Cubs broke the game open in the sixth. Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant singled, and Anthony Rizzo drove them both in [VIDEO].
Now it’s 3-0, but the Cubs aren’t done in that inning. One out after Rizzo’s double, Patrick Wisdom brought him home [VIDEO].
We are witnessing something special:
Patrick Wisdom has 7 homers in a 9-game span. First Cubs batter to do that since Kris Bryant (also 7) from Aug. 18-27, 2016.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 9, 2021
Patrick Wisdom continued his torrid hitting with a 6th-inning HR tonight against the Padres.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2021
His 8 HR in his 1st 10 starts for the Cubs are tied with Aristides Aquino (2019 for Reds) for the most HR in a player's first 10 starts with a team in modern MLB history (since 1900). pic.twitter.com/ifWn753k70
You might remember Aristides Aquino’s run in 2019 — of his eight home runs noted above, five of them were hit against the Cubs.
On the Marquee broadcast, Boog Sciambi and Ryan Dempster were talking about which Cubs might make the All-Star team and Wisdom’s name came up. It seems ludicrous thinking about that after just 44 plate appearances, but if he keeps hitting this way...
The Cubs added another pair of runs in the seventh. Pederson doubled with one out and after a second out in the inning, Rizzo hit his first home run since May 2 [VIDEO].
That’s 107 plate appearances between home runs for Rizzo. Typically, he’s gone on a hot streak just around this point in a season. His overall slash line isn’t bad — .267/.362/.445, .807 OPS — but the power number is down from his career .483. It would be nice if the hot streak started right now. He is hitting .313/.333/.500 (10-for-32) so far in June with three doubles and the home run.
After Davies departed, Andrew Chafin and Tommy Nance each threw scoreless innings. Nance has yet to allow a run in the major leagues in 11 appearances covering 9⅓ innings.
Alec Mills, who was activated from the injured list Tuesday with Cory Abbott returned to Triple-A Iowa, threw the ninth. Despite throwing 11⅓ innings in three rehab starts at Iowa, Mills’ command seemed way off. He walked the first two hitters he faced and after a force play, Ha Seong Kim doubled in the only San Diego run of the game. Mills seemed to settle down after that, striking out Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers to end it. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].
Here are some thoughts about this game from Rizzo [VIDEO].
One other transaction note, ICYMI Tuesday evening: Adbert Alzolay was placed on the 10-day injured list with the blister that forced him out of the ballgame Monday. Kohl Stewart was recalled from Iowa. For those of you who feel that Alzolay’s innings should be managed carefully this year, this appears to be part of that plan. He’s likely to be out longer than just the 10 days, I’d think.
This was a satisfying win and, apart from the run allowed in the ninth inning, the complaint department is definitely closed. Also, the game ran 51 minutes shorter than Monday’s and ended just a couple of minutes past midnight CT, a real pleasure for those of us in the Central time zone.
It will not be easy, but the Cubs do have a chance to win this series. They’ll have to beat old friend Yu Darvish to do so, and Darvish is having another fine season. Jake Arrieta will take the mound for the Cubs. No staying up late tonight for this one — it’s an afternoon contest at 3:10 p.m. CT. TV coverage will be on Marquee Sports Network.