A day off after a competitive/intense/angry series with the Rockies gave us all time to practice our best "last time the Cubs played at Progressive Field, ________ happened" lines. I, like probably many of you, had a blast reading through articles, photos, and tweets that brought back fond memories. Tonight's game made for some new fond memories, while keeping one theme from that fateful Game 7 in forethought.
Though it rained all night, you kinda just knew they wouldn't ever delay the game, didn't you? Seems like MLB owed it to the Cleveland club to get this whole thing in so that they wouldn't be exposed to even more stories about the 17-minute delay in Game 7, and The Meeting.
It didn't really matter anyway, as the Cubs didn't need an inspirational team meeting to take care of business tonight.
The Cubs got on the scoreboard early when Kyle Schwarber launched an 117.1 MPH rocket to the right field bleachers. He was followed by Addison Russell, who doubled. Ian Happ had a nice night, and drove in the second run of the game with a single to center. 2-0 Cubs. The lead was extended to 3-0 in the top of the third on a solo home run by Willson Contreras, his first of the season.
Tyler Chatwood was...himself? So far the only thing consistent about Chatwood is that he appears he's going to walk 4-5 batters per game. That's provided mixed results to this point. Tonight he walked another five, but took advantage of a first inning double play, a pick-off, and some excellent defense in right field by Jason Heyward to keep the Indians in check. The double play was of the inning-ending variety to get out of the first. The pickoff ended the second inning, though the Cubs had to challenge a safe call by first base ump Lance Barksdale. Cleveland narrowed the lead a bit in the bottom of the third inning. Bradley Zimmer led off with a bunt single, and Rajai Davis walked to put two runners on. Francisco Lindor laid down a nice bunt, but Tommy La Stella made an even better play to get the out at first. Still, Cleveland had runners at second and third with just one out. Some guy that I hear is from the Chicago area grounded out to La Stella to score Cleveland's first run to make it 3-1. Heyward ended any further damage, however, when he fielded a Jose Ramirez single and threw a strike to home plate. The Indians challenged the call on the field, but Rajai Davis was still out.
The Cubs bats really took over from that point forward.
Kyle Schwarber homered a second time - this one a towering fly to right. Three batters later, Ian Happ hit his third dinger of the season on an opposite field number, ending Josh Tomlin's night on the mound.
Meanwhile, Chatwood was probably at his best in innings 4-6. He allowed two walks, but did not allow a hit, while striking out three. In the sixth, Mr. Northbrook smacked a sinking liner into right field, only to have Heyward make a nice diving grab on the play.
By this time, the field conditions were really starting to deteriorate, with the infield becoming noticeably damp. It slowed down the Cubs only nominally.
Heyward and Happ each singled to start off the seventh inning, and Albert Almora laid down a nice bunt. Heyward would have scored easily, but pitcher Zach McAllister still attempted to throw home on the play. When it got past the catcher, Happ easily advanced to third base. This would allow him to score when Javier Báez grounded out to the pride of Glenbrook North High School. Anthony Rizzo got a gift of an infield single, and two batters later Tommy La Stella knocked in Almora to make the score 8-1.
Chatwood gave up a lead-off single to start the bottom of the 7th, and was removed after 92 pitches. His final line for the night was 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, and 5 Ks. Steve Cishek pitched around some poor footing and control issues to get out of the inning unscathed.
Each team added two more runs to close out the ballgame, but it was all over by the end of the 7th. Hell, Len Kasper got at least 40 minutes to talk about every Michigander's first, true love, euchre (this is not exaggeration). Justin Wilson and Luke Farrell each got a garbage time inning (and each gave up a run).
All in all, it was a pretty satisfying game. Javy stayed hot with two more hits. Schwarber had his two dongs. Rizzo got two much needed base hits - hopefully that will get him going. Ian Happ collected three knocks. Heyward had two hits - it was a dominant night by the Cubs offense.
Jon Lester will take the mound for the Cubs against Trevor Bauer, who lost two games in the 2016 World Series (some people forget that). First pitch is at 6:10 CDST.
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