You know, maybe, just maybe, some of these sub Cubs can play, just a little.
Outstanding pitching and a three-run homer from Frank Schwindel produced a solidly-played 3-0 win over the Twins Wednesday in Minneapolis, giving the Cubs a sweep of the two-game series. It was the first series sweep of any kind by a Cubs team since June 11-13 over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Justin Steele was a bit shaky early, issuing a walk in the first and another in the second inning, where he also hit a batter. But he got out of that second inning with a double play, and then the Cubs offense got to work.
Alfonso Rivas led off the third with a walk, and one out later Andrew Romine doubled him to third. After Rafael Ortega flied to center, Schwindel did his thing [VIDEO].
I admit that I have been somewhat dismissive of Schwindel in his month-plus as a Cub, but the man has done nothing but hit since he joined the active roster after the selloff. With the Cubs he is hitting .337/.385/.644 (34-for-101) with seven home runs (he’s got eight overall this year including one with the A’s). He’s now homered in three consecutive games. A lot of this is probably due to a BABIP of .365, which is likely not sustainable. But it sure is fun to watch, as is the Schwindel Face:
Anyway, Steele got himself in trouble again in the fourth with two baserunners allowed, but worked his way out of that inning as well and was removed after a 1-2-3 fifth. Overall he threw a season-high 86 pitches, which is more than you’d like to see for five innings, but give Steele credit for getting himself out of trouble.
The Cubs had just two hits after Schwindel’s home run, a third-inning single by Ian Happ and another single in the seventh by Jason Heyward, but it didn’t matter because of the pitching of Steele and Adbert Alzolay, who was making his first appearance after being activated earlier in the day from the injured list.
So now I ask: Where has this Alzolay been all year? He was absolutely dominant, retiring 12 of the 13 batters he faced, allowing just a one-out single in the seventh and recording those 12 outs on just 40 pitches. Look at this pitch to Miguel Sano that ended the game [VIDEO].
More of this from Alzolay, please. The four-inning outing finishing the game gave Alzolay his first MLB save. He’s just the fourth Cub to post a four-inning save since 2000 (and looking at these numbers, it’s probably the best of the four):
|1||Adbert Alzolay||2021-09-01||CHC||MIN||W 3-0||6-GF, S||4.0||1||0||0||0||5|
|2||Mike Montgomery||2017-05-25||CHC||SFG||W 5-1||6-GF, S||4.0||1||0||0||1||0|
|3||Sean Gallagher||2007-07-18||CHC||SFG||W 12-1||6-GF, S||4.0||4||1||1||2||0|
|4||Jimmy Anderson||2004-06-14||CHC||HOU||W 7-2||6-GF, S||4.0||5||2||2||1||0|
The win wrapped up a winning road trip for the Cubs — granted, only five games and a 3-2 record — but it was the first winning Cubs trip since May 21-27, when they won five of six in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Two of the three wins on this trip were shutouts, perhaps a sign that the pitching staff is starting to find itself. Lastly, at 2:28 this game was over an hour shorter than Tuesday’s and also the fastest nine-inning game of the 2021 Cubs season (and among only 33 MLB nine-inning games this year completed in 2:28 or less).
The Cubs and Twins will meet again for another two-game series September 21 and 22 at Wrigley Field.
Meanwhile, the Cubs return to Wrigley Thursday to begin a 10-game homestand, longest of the 2021 season. It begins with a four-game series against the Pirates. Keegan Thompson will start for the Cubs Thursday evening and Mitch Keller is the scheduled starter for the Pirate. Game time is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.