We're Going Sweeping: Cubs 9, Reds 5

First, I'd like to welcome you to the Cubs run party. No need to bring anything, but hopefully you like dingers, walks, and hits because that's what the Cubs were serving up.

At the beginning of this year, anyone that was anyone (and everyone that isn't anyone) were talking about how many runs the Cubs had given up on average in the 1st inning of ball games. Don't get me wrong, it was a lot. And it was super annoying. But it seems like those struggles are starting to subside. And, even better, the Cubs today were the ones who brought the damage early.

Amir Garrett struggled mightily with his command early. After Willson Contreras walked to load the bases, Addison Russell had a walk of his own to walk in the Cubs first run of the game. Addy's at-bat was particularly impressive after a couple called strikes had him behind in the count. But that's not the story of the 1st. The story of the first is written by a game named Javier Baez with the bases loaded:

In case you can't tell, Baez murdered that ball. It was his third career grand slam. What was "funny" in that at-bat though, was that right before that homerun pitch, Baez got a fastball right down the middle and laid-off. You could find me screaming at the TV. Apparently, he knew what he was doing. It was all about the off-speed, baby.

Cubs added to that 5-0 lead in the bottom of the 4th. This time it was Kris Bryant's turn:


In the bottom of the 5th, Baez went right back to work. With 2 on and 2 out, he smacked a single to score Ian Happ, who started the 2-out rally with a walk. Then, with 1 out, something magical almost happened: Jon Lester almost went deep. But then he didn't. So you don't really care, right? Well you should because he was able to get in another run on the sacrifice. Then, to round the inning out, Ben Zobrist singled home another run to put the Cubs lead at 9-0.

Lester was not only driving in runs this afternoon, he was also pitching one a hell of a game. After striking out 5 and giving up no runs, the Reds had three consecutive singles to start the 7th inning. On the third single, Arismendy Alcantara, broke the shutout and singled home Jose Peraza. That would be it for Jon as Hector Rondon came out in relief.

But the Hector inning would not be a good one. With no one out, speedster, Billy Hamilton, hit a gapper in right center which luckily was held up in the vines for a groundrule double. Hamilton would've easily been on third, and another run would have scored as a result. But as it stood, only one run was gained on the play. After a Zach Cozart groundout allowed another run, Adam Duvall then singled yet another run to close the game and put the score at 9-4. Woof.

After working a scoreless 8th inning, Brian Duensing was sent out to close out the game in the 9th. It didn't go well. Both Hamilton and Cozart lead-off the inning with back-to-back singles and then Duensing hit Votto to load the bases. That meant that with no outs the tying run was on deck. Koji Uehara was brought in for the save.

While the first out resulted in a run on the pop-up by Duvall, Koji was able to strike out Eugenio Suarez and Stuart Turner to end the game.

Cubs win, holmes.

Source: FanGraphs

Sup, Javy?
He had been hitless in his last 4 games. But today, he exploded. It was great to see him have some success at the plate. But it wasn't just the longball. He also singled and walked (!). It seems that anytime someone mentions there being crowding in the infield nowadays, Baez's name is the first that gets mentioned as someone who should depart this team via trade (I'm guilty of at least thinking it sometimes as well). But I think we have to remember (1) his contributions in the postseason last year, (2) his defense can be an incredible asset (something I was reminded about on Twitter today), and (3) younger, unproven players aren't always the answer.

That being said...
Ian Happ has to continue to find a way to be worked into this lineup. I don't care how it happens. He had another great day at the plate today smacking a double, opposite field single, and drawing a walk (which is almost more impressive than the oppo single or double). He's shown an innate ability to command the strikezone and, as many of the beat reporters have mentioned, he doesn't seem phased by anything, really.

Are the Cubs Fine?


Three Stars of the Game:

Third Star: Kris Bryant (1-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 RBI)
Chicks dig the long ball.

Second Star: Jon Lester (6.0 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, 1 ER, 1 RBI)
He did it all today. And gave the Cubs some great innings.

First Star: Javier Baez (3-4, 1 HR, 1 BB, 5 RBI)
I see you, Javy.

Filed under: Game Recap

Tags: Ian Happ, Javier Baez, jon Lester


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  • Starting to resemble the Cubs teams from the last couple of seasons--get early runs and good starting pitching. Good stuff.

  • Great win! A sweep is nice. Yes, Javy killed it today. My hope is that Eddie Butler comes out dealing tomorrow, turns into this year's version of 2015 Jake Arrieta, and no one is needed to be traded.

    On a different note, it is nice to see Alcantara have some success.

  • Rondon doesnt make me happy in my pants

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Winner of best comment of the week.

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    In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Yeah, when he took the field I was hoping for a clean inning, thinking, you know, the Nationals could really use I guy with closing experience. Nope!

  • Things went well today. Things are always good for me when Javy does well, but even beyond him, the team dominated offensively. Everyone contributed. The offense is starting to look like last year's. Thing of beauty.

    I'm not sure what was up with the bullpen. I'm also not sure why Johnson wasn't brought in. Home team up by 9 seems like perfect conditions to get your feet wet, he couldn't have been much worse than Rondon. There are bullpen guys who I trust, and there are guys that I don't, and I cringe when they come out.

    Lester had another strong outing. I'm starting to trust most of the starting pitchers again. I hope Butler looks good, I'm excited to watch him again.

  • Are the Cubs Fine?
    Yes. For Today.


  • The guy that is really worrying me is Addison Russell. His average is now down to barely above .210 and isn't hitting the ball all that hard. Need to get him (and Rizzo to a lesser extent) straightened out next.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Russell has been essentially this for nearly two full seasons. He's a glove first SS with pop.

  • The bats are starting to warm up with the weather. Lester has nearly gone yard a couple times in his last few AB's. I'd be worried about my wager if I were Lackey. He needs to step up his offensive game.

    We all feel better when we're winning. Let's keep it up. I tried this the other night but was stymied by the filter. Let's rock, my fellow headbangers:

    "If you're waiting for a long time
    For the rest to do their piece.
    You can tell her that you know me
    And you might even get it free."

  • Everything is good when the Cubs are winning. Even Lester has driven the ball deep in a couple recent AB's. I'd be worried about a wager if I were Lackey.

    Seems as though the filter is not a fan of Iron Maiden. Six attempts down the drain. But I won't give up as long as the Cubs are making us all happy. For my headbanging brethren:

    "If you're waiting for a long time
    For the rest to do their piece
    You can tell her that you know me
    And you might even get it free".

  • Spam filter doesn't like Iron Maiden lyrics. Sorry, but this is getting personal. Seven straight down the tubes. I'm just trying to rejoice in some Cubs good fortune, and give a nod to my headbanging brethren:

    "If you're waiting for a long time
    For the rest to do their piece.
    You can tell her that you know me
    And you might even get it free."

  • It's always fun when the Cubs sweep. I've wanted to mention some lyrics, just because, but the filter doesn't seem to be an Iron Maiden fan. I'll try again, for my headbanging brethren:

    "If you're waiting for a long time
    For the rest to do their piece.
    You can tell her that you know me
    And you might even get it free."

  • I've found a combination of words the filter does not like. I'm giddy over the sweep, and wanted to rock out with ya'll, but the filter does not agree with 22 Acacia Ave. Maybe that was just too much?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    ".......22, the Avenue; that's the place where we all goooo!......."

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    "You will find,
    It's warm inside.
    The red light's burning bright tonight".

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Sorry, I do get carried away. I know there are some Sabbath fans here. Google "Sabbath War Pigs Live Paris 1970". You'll be glad you did. For whatever reason Geezer Butler's bass track is missing, but you'll see Bill Ward absolutely abuse the drums.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Sorry, but I can't help myself, and I know there are Sabbath fans here. I found an amazing video. Google "Youtube Sabbath War Pigs Live Paris 1970". You'll be glad you did. For whatever reason Geezer Butler's bass track is missing, but you'll see "King Kong" Bill Ward absolutely abuse his drum kit. You are welcome.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Sorry, I can't help myself, and I know there are a lot of Sabbath fans here. I found an amazing video. Google "Sabbath War Pigs Live Paris 1970". You'll be glad you did. For whatever reason Geezer Butler's bass track is edited out, but you'll see "King Kong" Bill Ward absolutely abuse his drum kit. Sabbath!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I hate to say goodbye to you...157 Riverside Ave....dididi didido, dididi didido,

  • In reply to biittnersmustache:

    I heard that song on the radio the other day....just the other day.....I swear to God it was JUST the other day.

    RIP Gary Richrath. And also the great Chris Cornell.

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    2 games over .500 is a start--one day at a time. I'll feel much better when we're 10 games over and in 1st place. It's a big start for Butler tomorrow. He is the cost controlled young starter we've been looking for and we've already traded for him. He has the stuff, now he just needs the control. What a find it would be to have him as a regular. He would be the 5th starter, but we know how transient that is--last year Kyle started out there and by the end of the he was either 1 or 2, and this year I'd argue he's been our best starter.
    That brings me to Happ. Joe has said that he really doesn't make out the lineup card, the players make it out for him. Happ is doing that for him now. If he keeps hitting and fielding in multiple positions then possibly Almora might be the odd man out and I don't want to see that. We need a plus defender along with all the other plus defenders on this team. He (Happ) doesn't look out of place or overwhelmed by the majors. That cup of coffee he's up for might turn out to be a whole meal.
    Go Cubs!!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    If Happ can play passable infield defense, TLS is out, but we haven't seen Happ on the infield yet. I would assume if he can play infield, we'd see it soon. If Happ is solely a big league outfielder who can very occasionally spot start infield, I'm not sure what they do. Almora is a true defense first CF. I don't like anything that forces Heyward to move to CF. If Theo was less obsessed with Schwarber, I'd say he'd be out, but I'm not sure Theo would ever trade him.

    Unless Happ is the next Bryant (and who knows he might be), his average will come back to earth and pitchers will adjust to him. Until then, he should play.

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    In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    I agree with you that TLS is the likely "next man down" to keep Happ if he keeps hitting. There really isn't a huge advantage to having TLS on the team over Happ. Both are mediocre to bad utility infielders defensively. Both are good hitters. Both hit LH (and, in Happ's case, RH). Almora's defense is just too important to send it down. Though I would like him to get more consistent playing time.

    What if, God forbid, we put Happ in LF and give Schwarber some time off to work through his stuff in BP and get his swing back. He has been better lately but, to me, that is the logical place for Happ when Heyward gets back.

    I would also like to see him play some infield. He had some interesting routes in CF the other night but the wind was blowing so that might have caused problems for even good defenders.

  • I hate the fact that in the post game interviews Javy is now being asked about trade talk. I mean HATE it. It is unbelievable that anyone needs to defend Javy after all he's done for this team starting with his 3 run homer to eliminate the Cards in the 2015 NLDS and then continuing with his star turn throughout last years glorious run. He was star in the most glorious time of our lives and the fact that anyone would want to trade him in difficult to fathom, let alone accept.

    Obviously, I love Javy. He's my favorite Cub (with 4 or 5 others in a tie for close second). The most exciting player since Clemente. I sure hope Theo agrees with my view that Javy should be our 2nd basemen for the next 10-15 years.

  • Does anyone know what happened to dylan cease I heard he left with an injury. Hope it's minor he's probably the last guy in our farm system that I wanted to see go down

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Cease tweaked his ankle while covering third base. He threw a few test pitches before leaving the game. We never want to see an injury to a prospect with so much promise, but this seems minor. A baseball injury, and nothing involving his arm.

    This seems like as good a time as any to update the condition of the Mephis Redbirds P Daniel Poncedeleon. He was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Victor Caratini, and was immediately hospitalized. He underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure in his brain, and we're finally getting some positive news. He has been making good progress, and the prognosis is as positive as one could expect in this horrible situation. Nobody is thinking of when he'll return to a mound, it's at the point of wishing he has recovery and quality of life issues, and we should all hope for the best. Always sad to see.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Thanks for the update. Is his last name pronounced like the 16th century explorer? Just curious.

    If i had to choose an injury for a young pitcher it would be a twisted ankle covering a base. My guess is that it hurt so he was landing funny on the mound and they decided to play it safe and not risk THAT hurting his arm.

  • Thanks,

    That's great news if it's a non-arm injury

  • Not to be a Nervous Nellie, but the generally low BA's for many of the Cubs starters is a little concerning to me this year.

    I know Rizzo goes thru hot and cold streaks, and that Zo is usually around .260 by the end of the year, but what really concerns me are the low battling averages of Schwarber/Russell/Contreras.

    Schwarber may not be the kind of hitter for the lead-off spot and this could be messing with his natural approach. Contreras probably has a lot on his mind now as the primary catcher which may be taking away time to work on his hitting. Russell really concerns me the most of the three.

    I still wonder how they can draw so many walks yet not put the ball in play, or consistently hit to the opposite field when the situation calls for it. Just doesn't seem like some of these guys are making the "in-game adjustments" on a regular basis yet.

    Maybe its just all a big letdown from the WS win and they will eventually get it going in the 2nd half.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    I'm hopefully Russell does better offensively. But he's such a great defender, at such a key position, his offense comes secondary. I felt like the team's defense really suffered in Colorado when he was out. Old cool stat:

    Most Defensive Runs Saved in 2017

    Nolan Arenado 9
    Jason Heyward 8
    Addision Russell 8
    Hernán Pérez 8

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    I think it's a combination of the post-WS hangover/letdown and the frigid weather early in the season. Now that it's warmer let's see how guys like Schwarber, Contreras, Russell, Heyward, and Baez will hit. I think the next 6 weeks will say a lot about whether the Cubs hitting will be a problem this year. I'm betting that the offense will recover, but you make good points.

  • I don't believe Bryant's base-running gets enough praise. Today (yesterday), it was the difference maker in the 5 run first. Id say the same for game 7 of the WS (I thought he was WS MVP). He seems to make all the right reads and routinely is able to take the extra base. What a ball player!

  • In reply to jefeggs2542:

    Bryant is one of those guys you don't fully appreciate unless you actually watch the games he is in. The baseball IQ and ultra competitiveness is as high as anyone in the league. You can make a similar case for Almora, Baez, or Heyward. The Cubs have a lot of players who compete hard (and succeed) in every phase. I think that may be the "secret sauce" to the Cubs scouting recipe when looking to acquire players for the organization.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HefCA:

    Bryant is "off-the-charts" in so many ways. Some easy to observe on the back of a baseball card. Some are more subtle like the baseball IQ, baserunning feats, he's faster than many believe in such a big body, etc.

    What amazes me about Bryant is for such a young player to make so few "mental" errors. Sometimes his mechanics get off and his throws sail and things like that. But these are "physical" errors. They happen and are usually relatively easy to fix. He seldom makes a TOOTBLAN, seldom makes a poor choice who to throw to. He's not as demonstrative as Baez but just as competitive. But when I want my daughters to see a "baseball player" I want them to look at Kris Bryant. He plays the game the way I want it to be played: Like he has either been in the situation before OR has considered it and decided in advance what to do and simply executes it. He never looks over-matched by an opposing player or a situation.

    He reminds me of the story that Bob Costas tells. "Mantle is great, he can hit the ball a mile. Mays is so smooth and such a gifted athlete. Duke is one of the best players around. But you never saw DiMaggio, kid. You never saw the best." Somehow I think we will be saying that in 30-40 years about Bryant.

  • In reply to jefeggs2542:

    He is so good. I feel like he's almost under appreciated. There is so much swirl about all the other players, but I am really happy they have Kris Bryant. And yeah, he's an amazing base runner.

  • In reply to jefeggs2542:

    Fun fact: Bryant's WPA in game 7 of the World Series was -0.022 (or, his play decreased the Cubs' chances of winning the game by 2.2%).

    Of course, if you watched the game you completely disagree with this. First, his fly out in the 10th helped set up the whole rally. And the Cubs don't win that game without his baserunning. He scored on a flyball to CF that maybe 5 guys in the league even attempt, and then scored from 1st on Rizzo's single. People talk about Enos Slaughter's mad dash in the 1946 WS. I think 50 years from now people will look back at Bryant's play in the same light.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    With all the analytics, statistics and conveniences of smart phones ect. There are still things that you catch by just "watching the game."

  • Nice to see a series sweep in favor of the Cubs. With the poor starts of the starting pitching, and hitters it is pretty amazing that they are still above .500. With the starters coming around, and the weather warming up, I am ready to see the Cubs make a nice run. Let's win another series starting today. The Cubs will be back in first place by the All-Star break.

  • Javy at Short today. Jay in right, Ian in center and the babe in left.. Zo manning second.

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