He's On Fire--Cubs 16 Rockies 5

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.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

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.

Random Reference
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

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  • fb_avatar

    the Cubs played great baseball tonight. Going the other way, not trying to pull everything, taking pitches, being aggressive on the base paths, good pitching and defense. This harkens back to 2015 and 2016. Now we've had 2 games where we've scored at least 8 runs. We've got an OBP of around .350 as a team, now we need our starting pitching to come around and we will be a force again.
    Go Cubs!

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    Want more good news?

    Alzolay tonight:
    6IP, 2H, 2BB, 1R, 6K.

    He could dominate out of the bullpen even if the Cubs opt to keep the starting 5 going.

  • The Amazing Hendo? Both he and Montgomery went 0-2. That bum at 1B went 0-5. Send them all to AAA. Free Navarro! We stink. (I'm trying but I'm really not good at this).

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    well Justin Wilson did suck in the 9th inning. Glad we had a 12 run lead.

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    I saw that. Now really good news would be if Joe keeps the same lineup tomorrow.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    It's good to see Almora getting some at bats.

  • Loved loved loved (!!!) your lead take on Javy:
    IF he ever figures out the approach at the plate he will
    Be an irrefutable baseball god.

  • I am just giddy this morning. Haven't felt this way since 2016. Mostly about what My Man Javy -- the most exciting player since Clemente, my new favorite Cub of all time, NL leader in RBI and SLG% -- is doing.

    I had been beating the drum for Javy to hit clean up. But I'll take 2nd. Indeed, I love him in the 2-hole. Javy always played with high energy, so it quite remarkable that it seems he's been energized even further by his "promotion" to 2nd in the lineup. I love that kid!

    But also really happy to see Almora (He's a ballplayer! Let him play! Everyday, Joe!) , Schwaber and Heyward all getting it done as well.

  • Zobrist to the DL. Any thoughts on who will take his place?

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    In reply to Teddy KGB:

    Bote or Freeman?

  • In reply to Glen Krisch:

    Gimenez or Coghlan?

  • In reply to Teddy KGB:

    Could be a pitcher or Navarro

  • Yeaaaaaa....let’s start putting together some series wins now and get away from that terrible weather.

  • fb_avatar

    With the game out of hand, I was kind of hoping they would have pulled Willson the last couple of innings. He's taken a beating so far this year. I suppose that's one of the negatives with having such a short bench in favor of a long bullpen.

  • In reply to Glen Krisch:

    Joe would probably have to hog tie Willson in the clubhouse to get him off the field. It's a good point though, that Contreras should get his rest days as the season goes along.

    Sorry too hear that Zo is injured because his bat will be missed when the guys stop scoring runs in bunches.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    There have been enough postponements that Willson should be fine.

  • In reply to 2Toes:

    Agree, for now.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Joe might give him a day tomorrow afternoon?

  • Get a little offense from CF, RF, and SS to go with Javy and Schwarber figuring it out just makes this a scary offense. Once Rizzo and Willy heat up there is no way we don’t become the team to beat in the NL.

    I believe Chili’s “through the middle” or “gap to gap” approach is taking hold. Say what you want about “Mechanical Maillee” good or bad, but Chili will have more of an impact because he played and was a damn good hitter. Kinda like how Manny impacts the guys he talks to. Javy spoke about keeping it through the middle and watch Schwarber hitting to CF/LCF to see the same approach and it is no secret what we are trying to do.

    AA needs to play, period. Time to take the gloves off and end the mix and match lineups. Let the team settle in as they are clicking right now. Give these guys 20+ games in a row and let’s ascend to the top of baseball.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Maddon preached the same through the middle approach.
    I think the hitting coach gets too much credit when the offense is going well and too much blame when the offense struggles.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Perhaps. The difference is in credibility and who is delivering the message—a generational hitter and a very good hitter in the MLB or a cool funky hip manager with 0 stats on the back of his baseball card? They look different so far in terms or approach.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Totally agree!

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Absolutely. Almora needs to be playing everyday, not because he needs it, but because he is the best all around outfielder on the team. The favorable match up reasoning should be put to rest now. I trust that Maddon understands much better than I do, and give him credit for developing Almora at the major league level. Schwarber, Russell, and Happ -- all the same age -- where all rushed up and it has shown. Almora plays with more confidence than each of them. Last year even, you could see Almora's confidence in his eyes and body every play. The kid is a baseball player, period, the way Bryant is (albeit without the same level of talent). Javy, now he just is baseball.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Notice that Javys HRs and extra base hits are on balls hit to right center or center? Hes not trying to jerk the ball right now, and his K rate is down at about 20% right now. Schwarber, same thing. All 4 of his bombs have been big field Alley to alley.

  • That was some fun baseball to watch. Piggybacking on what others have already said, I loved to see so many guys willing to go to the opposite field and take what the pitcher is giving them. Baez is playing out of his mind right now and it's a joy to watch.

    Hopefully the offense becomes more consistent and isn't so feast or famine, but the feasting part is fun to watch when it happens.

  • The spam filter got me.

  • This might get contentious. I'm going to say it anyway.

    Heyward is going to have a season, that, when we see it in hindsight, will look better than anything he's done at the plate as a Cub. Even when he hits it at someone, he's hitting it harder than ever before.

    Baez is rocking it, Heyward will be the bonus - and surprise.

  • In reply to MN Exile:

    It's a little early for both, but I sure hope you're right. It's looking like Schwarber is finding it, too.

  • Almora/Baez think that Dennier/Sandberg in 1984 were overrated.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    We might have another dynamic duo. :-)

  • In reply to John57:

    I think they were known as the 'daily double'.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That's what Harry coined them.

  • Great game until justin wilson entered. I can't Wait until wilson and butler are dfa'd theo lost that tigers trade Big time.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Geez, Cubs won 16-5 and this...okay

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Yea people are entitled to have opinions. Don't reply if you can't grasp that concept

  • In reply to bolla:

    I grasp it, I was trying to be polite and bring you back back to Dabysky's topic, just my humble entitled opinion as you have yours.

  • In reply to bolla:

    You have to blame the offence for that. Had they put up more runs the Madden may have had the confidence to put Farrel in. Can't understand why they left Montgomery in for so long and then came back with Wilson when they have Farrel sitting there for the sole purpose of eating garbage innings.

    May I suggest that Wilson's next low leverage opportunity to build confidence is throwing out ceremonial opening pitches. With that crowd his control would fit right in.

  • In reply to LOB8591:

    exactly, the guy had the most low leverage situation possible outside being up 17-20 runs and created a mess. They had farrel warming up let the kid get his feet wet that was an ideal a situation for a debut as it gets.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bolla:

    Butler hasn't been awful. I am not ready to give up on him esp after 1 blow up and he goes on the DL right after. Perhaps he was injured and that can be at least partly responsible for the performance.

  • I saw a lot of good things last night. I was smiling ear to ear schwarber,heyward,almora and of course baez. Whenever rizzo gets going cubs offense will be alright.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Russell too I forgot about addy.

  • In reply to bolla:

    While Russell isn't hitting for high average, he's flashed the same on-base skills he showed earlier in his career. His OBP is over 100 points higher than his BA. He's also been mostly going the other way lately with good results. I know he's got some power in his swing, but I feel like he's been kind of unlucky hitting balls into the wind that only made it to the warning track this year. His BABIP is only .280 so he's bound to get some balls falling in soon enough. And you gotta like that he's got a 13% strikeout and walk rate. Hoping some of his contact starts falling in and getting over the fence occasionally.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Darn... I just had a nice thoughtful reply about Addison and what he's done well this year and now I fully understand why I see others typing about comments getting swallowed up. Frustrating... Hope it pops up soon enough because I don't want to try and recreate it. But mostly positives about his K rate and BB rate, as well as his unlucky BABIP, and some nicely driven balls getting knocked down by wind and caught on the warning track.

  • I saw news that White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar pitched an inning yesterday then had to be taken to the hospital after passing out in the dugout. The White Sox just released a grim statement that Farquhar suffered a brain aneurysm and is in stable but critical condition, and asking to respect the privacy of his family.

    Sad news. Good wishes, Danny.

  • Game thoughts. Cubs as a team played a true team game from the plate. What is interesting now at the seventeen game mark is Fangraphs is that the Cubs as a team are in the top 4 of TEAM WAR, 5th in DEF WAR, 5th in OFF WAR, yet 23rd in PITCHING WAR, 26th in SPing WAR, 8th RPing WAR yet, tied in the loss column with the other division leaders Pitt & Stl, one up on Milw.

    So what is this sample size suggesting?

    The vaunted starting pitching is under-performing towards expectations---significantly, while the rest of the team is performing towards expectations. Yet the focus has been on the offense.

    Though a Cubs announcer said that Cubs are either winning big or losing close---still they are tied with division leaders in the loss column. I am expecting a positive movement, the batting order seems to be meshing and I expect the starting pitching to perform.

  • Line-up out on MLB.com
    Almora CF
    Baez 2B
    Bryant RF
    Rizzo 1B
    Contreras C
    Happ LF
    Russell SS
    Bote 3B
    Darvish P

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Stack the Righties !

    Too bad we only have 1 switch hitter now !

  • fb_avatar

    I have a bad feeling that Yu is going to get lit up as the Rock pile is angry and will come out swinging, but..........

    My brain is telling me Yu the competitor is going to bring his A game tonight. It's a big start for his early cubs career. The fans and media do not want to see another stinker, and he's a big time competitor and will squash that notion that the book is out on him/ hitters know how to attack him, blah blah. Don't bet against Yu.

    Cubs O exploded yesterday ( normally $ would be on a >3 performance ) and 2 of the 4 catalysts are sitting due to the southpaw on the bump. We will scratch out a few early runs w our RH dominate lineup, but Rizzo is going to be the offensive hero tonight. Bullpen will have to get at least 7-8 outs as Yu gets us into the 7th. Cubs win 6-4

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