This is how I thought the Chicago Cubs would play in 2022. Solid starting pitching, just enough hitting, useful relief and good defense.
Games like this have not numbered many during this Cubs season, so we should definitely celebrate their 4-0 shutout of the Marlins on a hot, sticky day at Wrigley Field.
Per BCB’s own JohnW53, this game was the 1,500th shutout in the history of the Chicago Cubs franchise dating back to their very first game April 25, 1876, when they shut out Louisville, coincidentally by the same 4-0 score.
Let’s unwrap this nicely-played ballgame.
Drew Smyly allowed a couple of baserunners in the first inning, and the Cubs matched that in the second, but neither team could score.
In the top of the third, a pair of Miami singles sandwiched around a force play and a fly to right put runners on first and second with two out.
We should look at that fly to right, because it was a nice reaching grab by Seiya Suzuki [VIDEO].
Suzuki wasn’t done playing defense in that inning. Bryan De La Cruz singled, and Miguel Rojas tried to score. Suzuki’s throw was ruled too late and the runner was safe ... or was he? [VIDEO].
On review, the call was overturned. You can see P.J. Higgins tag Rojas just before his foot touches the plate, and the game remained scoreless.
After that Smyly was dealing. He retired the next 11 Marlins in a row before Charles Leblanc doubled with two out in the seventh, after which David Ross took Smyly out to a nice ovation.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were scoring runs. In the bottom of the fourth, Ian Happ doubled with one out. Nico Hoerner singled him in to make it 1-0 [VIDEO].
The Cubs extended the lead in the fifth. Singles by Christopher Morel — breaking an 0-for-24 slump — and Rafael Ortega put runners on first and third. Willson Contreras made it 2-0 [VIDEO].
That put runners on first and third again. Suzuki hit into a double play, but that scored the Cubs’ third run [VIDEO].
Happ and Hoerner followed with singles, but Frank Schwindel was called out on strikes to end the inning.
Higgins gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead in the sixth with his fifth home run of 2022 [VIDEO].
If you missed my tweet earlier, the video boards at Wrigley are now showing home run metrics, which is a nice addition:
After Smyly was removed with two out in the seventh, Ross left it up to Mark Leiter Jr. to finish things up. Leiter, who has pitched very well lately, retired all seven Marlins he faced. Over Leiter’s last three games: seven innings, no hits, no runs, four walks (0.00 ERA, 0.571 WHIP), five strikeouts. Who knows, maybe he can turn into a useful long reliever.
One of those outs was this outstanding catch by Happ that ended the top of the eighth [VIDEO].
The Cubs did basically everything right in this one, so again, the complaint department door is closed and locked up tight after this nicely-played win. The Cubs have now won their last five home games, which is nice considering how poorly they played at Wrigley Field earlier this year. In the 2022 scheme of things, this win might not mean much, but winning’s always better than losing, and some of the guys who will be important contributors going forward (Hoerner, 3-for-4, Suzuki, excellent defense) had good games.
They’ll go for the three-game sweep Sunday afternoon, weather permitting. Adrian Sampson will start for the Cubs and lefthander Jesus Luzardo will go for Miami. Game time is again 1;20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.