It is good to be able to play two games in a row. It is especially good when the offense is rolling like it is right now.
The Cubs struck early and often in this one. Albert Almora led off for the second day in a row, and rewarded Joe Maddon with a groundball single to short. Javier Baez launched a home run to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Jon Gray retired the heart of the Cubs order to end the inning.
Kyle Hendricks struggled in the first inning. DJ LaMahieu hit a groundball single past Baez. He moved to second on a Chris Iannetta groundout, and scored on a Charlie Blackmon knock. Nolan Arenado crushed the first pitch he saw since his suspension to give the Rockies a 3-2 lead. Hendricks would pitch through the fifth inning. He gave up two hits, and both were to pitcher Jon Gray. No other Rockie reached base while Hendricks was on the mound.
Gray worked out of trouble in the third inning. The Cubs loaded the bases with Almora, Baez and Kris Bryant reaching to start the frame. Anthony Rizzo put the ball into play, but the Rockies were happy to turn a double play. Almora scored to tie the game, but the threat was ended.
Gray kept the Cubs bats quiet in the fourth inning, but the third time through the order was very good for the Cubs bats. Baez had a hustle double with one out in the fifth inning. Kris Bryant hit a ball to shortstop Trevor Story who attempted to get Baez at third. Baez was initially called out, but after review was clearly safe. Rizzo had a run scoring ground out, and then Arenado threw away the Willson Contreras grounder to allow another run to score. Kyle Schwarber flew out to end that inning.
Gray's night ended in the sixth inning with Jason Heyward's triple following Addison Russell's single to start the frame. Bryant Shaw faced eight batters next, and only managed to retire two of them. The Cubs would score seven runs highlighted by a massive Kyle Schwarber three run blast to dead center.
Mike Montgomery pitched the next three innings. The Rockies managed to put some traffic on the base paths in the seventh and eighth innings, but could only scratch across one more run. Antonio Senzatela pitched the final two innings for the Rockies. The Cubs put another four runs on the board. Justin Wilson pitched the bottom of the ninth and struggled yet again. The Rockies got another meaningless run, but mostly it was discouraging to see the once dominant lefty still struggle to find any semblance of command.
He Could Be A Religion
Former Cubs special assistant Jason Parks once commented on Javier Baez when he was at Baseball Prospectus. He actually commented on Baez frequently, but one line that has always stood out is that if Baez ever figured it out he would be a religion. That new faith might have been established. Baez had four hits to start the game. He had two chances to get the triple he needed to complete the cycle, but two hard hit drives to the outfield were each caught. Baez's numbers to start the season are near deity level with the recent hot stretch, but he has been an above average hitter for an entire season when you add in his plate appearances from last year. From April 2, 2017 to the last game against St. Louis, Baez has a healthy .270/.320/.501 slash line in 161 games. After tonight's game, Baez's K% has fallen all the way to 20% this year.
The Amazing Hendo
Hendricks looked very shaky to start the game. He threw a meatball to Arenado that gave up the early Cubs lead right away. But he then settled in to keep the Rockies at just 3. He probably could have pitched deeper into the game, but his pitch count had crept up with the early struggles in the first inning. His spot came up in the order, and Tommy La Stella walk helped lead to the seven run outburst that put this game out of reach.
Maybe Something There
It is shorter to list the players that didn't have multiple hits. Every Cubs position player reached base, and only Anthony Rizzo and pinch hitter Tommy La Stella didn't record a single hit. However, Jason Heyward had another multiple hit and extra base hit in the game. The 3 hits tonight brought his season slash line up to .246/.333/.404. That isn't an impressive line by any means but the 105 season wRC+ means that Heyward is an above league average hitter for perhaps the first time in his Cubs career. It might not last long, but Heyward has been hitting the ball harder and in the air more consistently this season. Long ways to go, but any positive signs are a good thing at this point.
The Cubs killed the Rockies with their seven run outburst in the sixth inning, but the Rockies refused to go quietly. In the seventh inning, they thought they might go for a walk, but the Cubs clubbed another three runs to put the Rockies out of their misery