It rained all morning and afternoon in Chicago, and at Wrigley Field, and I’ll have a bit more to say about that later.
Keeping with the spirit of the day, the Cubs rained down hits and home runs and evened up the series against the Braves with an 8-6 victory.
The Cubs did not waste any time getting on the board after being shut out Friday. After Javier Assad got through the first inning scoreless, the Cubs began the bottom of the first inning with a pair of walks drawn by Mike Tauchman and Nico Hoerner. Ian Happ grounded out, with the runners advancing to second and third.
Cody Bellinger’s grounder skipped past Matt Olson for an error, and both runners scored to make it 2-0 Cubs.
Swanson’s homer broke through the rain and a stiff wind blowing off Lake Michigan and was crushed! [VIDEO]
Christopher Morel struck out, but Jeimer Candelario made it 5-0 by launching one into the bleachers [VIDEO].
The Braves got a run back in the second off Assad, and another in the third on a home run by Ozzie Albies. Assad got in trouble again in the fourth after two were out, and had to depart for Michael Fulmer, who finished the inning with a ground out. Assad’s outing can’t really be described as “good,” though he left with the lead — 83 pitches and not finishing the fourth inning isn’t good and puts pressure on the bullpen.
The Cubs got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fourth. Candelario doubled — he’s second in the NL with 34 — and one out later, Nick Madrigal singled him in:
RBI knock for Nick Madrigal! pic.twitter.com/xRTv31HVRc— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) August 5, 2023
And the Cubs resumed their five-run lead in the fifth. Bellinger led off with a walk and advanced to second on an infield out.
Christopher Morel blooped this RBI single to right to make it 7-2 [VIDEO].
Fulmer had finished the fifth with no trouble — and props to him, he’s done a very good job in middle relief lately.
Daniel Palencia, though, got himself in trouble in the sixth. After he recorded the first out, he walked the bases loaded and allowed a run on a sacrifice fly. Mark Leiter Jr. entered and served up an RBI single to make it 7-4.
That was Happ’s 13th of the year and third in this homestand and all three have been hit righthanded, not Happ’s usual power side. (Granted, one was off position player Luke Maile. Still.) It’s good to see Happ start hitting — this seems to be an August thing with him, it happened just about this time of year two years ago, too.
So it’s 8-4 heading to the ninth, after Julian Merryweather threw two good innings in relief.
Adbert Alzolay entered to finish up, and you know what they sometimes say about closers coming into games in non-save situations? Yup, that happened to Adbert in this one. The first out was a long fly to center that would likely have been a home run for Ozzie Albies if not for the wind. Bellinger tracked it down at the wall. That was followed by a hard single to left, a balk and a two-run homer by the N.L.’s home-run leader, Matt Olson, his 38th.
But Alzolay bore down and got the next hitter on a comebacker and finished the game with this ground ball to second [VIDEO].
Before I wrap this and tell you about tomorrow’s game, a few words about the weather. It rained throughout the game, mostly light, sometimes moderate. I get why this game had to be played, Atlanta’s only visit, no real makeup dates, but I want to remind you what I wrote before this season even began, regarding the balanced schedule:
This means the possibility of a) more postponements difficult to make up, or b) games played in awful weather, or c) both.
Today we got point (b). Playing games in weather like this makes the quality of play worse because the wet ball is more difficult to grip for pitchers and risks injury to players on wet fields, not to mention inconveniencing fans, though I should note that it seemed as if the vast majority of the 40,201 people who bought tickets for today’s game did actually show up despite the awful weather. Winning will do that, I suppose.
Fortunately, the weather forecast for Sunday calls for rain and storms to hold off into the evening, which should be well after the game is over. And the Cubs have a pretty good chance at winning the rubber game of the series, with Justin Steele on the mound facing Atlanta’s Charlie Morton. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.