All it took for this team to get hot against teams that are pretty bad right now. That is no small feat for this team that too frequently in the past two campaigns seemed to play up or down to its competition's abilities. Tyler Chatwood did Tyler Chatwood things, but that was enough as the Cubs bombarded a part of the Sox future and ghosts of rebuild seasons past.
Tyler Chatwood actually took a no hitter into the fourth inning, but was wild frequently. He locked in at times and pitched out of trouble mostly of his own creation. Chatwood walked five batters in his five innings of work. The White Sox first run came in the fourth inning. Jose Abreu drew a one out walk to start the rally. Yolmer Sanchez singled and player I was totally aware existed before this game Daniel Palka doubled to drive in Abreu. A Welington Castillo strike out and Matt Davidson groundout ended the threat.
The White Sox final run came in the fifth inning. Chatwood walked two more batters after the first out. Adam Engel and Backyard Baseball character Nick Delmonico scored with the aid of another passed ball and wild pitch. Jose Abreu hit a two out single into left. Delmonico was sent and beaten easily by the throw and tag to end the inning. Engel's tally was the last highlight for the Southside club.
Carson Fulmer removed much of the drama from the game in the bottom of the first inning. Ben Zobrist hit a leadoff double, and then Fulmer hit Kris Bryant with a pitch. Anthony Rizzo singled to drive in Zobrist. Javier Báez struck out, but the trouble intensified with Kyle Schwarber drawing a bases loaded walk. Willson Contreras has gotten NBA Jam style on fire, and blasted a first inning grand slam to give the Cubs a 5-0 lead that was never in danger.
Kris Bryant hit a leadoff solo shot in the fourth inning making it a 6-1 game. Willson Contreras hit a second home run in the sixth inning bringing the game's score to 7-2. The Cubs put it completely out of reach in the seventh inning. The aptly named for White Sox fans Aaron Bummer provided the kindling for another crooked number. The inning started with Matt Davidson being unable to handle a hot smash from Ian Happ. Albert Almora Jr. switched places with him, and moved to second with Ben Zobrist single. Bryant singled to drive in Almora. Bummer walked Anthony Rizzo before being pulled with the very tall and large Chris Volstad. Báez had his best at bat of the afternoon against Volstad, and hit the ball hard. It was a bit too hard as it was merely a sacrifice fly. Tommy La Stella singled to give Willson another chance. Contreras hit a double down the right field line to drive in Bryzzo, and the score stood at 11-2.
Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson and Justin Hancock finished off the game. Hancock entered the game one inning too late to earn the blow out save. Instead it was two innings of scoreless work from the spring training standout.
The Lone Rough Days At The Plate
Addison Russell and Javier Báez were the only starters in the Cubs lineup without a base hit. The much rumored Addison Russell offensive breakout was stalled for another game. He has some positive indicators, and Sahadev Sharma's piece in the Athletic on that topic is a great read. Russell walked twice but also struck out twice. He had been hitting .375/.417/.645 since April 29. Báez also struck out twice and seems like the ball has shrunk from the beach ball size it was a couple weeks ago for him. He just seems off a little bit a lot more frequently, and the O fer end his seven game hitting streak. But it was an encouraging day with his final at bat against Chris Volstad. He was down his final strike, and manage to make contact to drive the ball to the outfield. This is a sign of the maturation of his bat.
It was extremely low leverage situations, but the Justins pitched well in this game. The biggest positive is that the month of May has brought about a transformation in Justin Wilson. This was his fifth appearance in the month of May, and he has yet to walk a batter. He has faced 16 batters and struck out 5 of them. That gives him a gaudy 31.25% strike out rate. Hancock pitched a pair of scoreless frames to close the game out. He has struck out four but he has walked three in those 3.2 big league innings. Odds are that Hancock is headed back to Iowa at some point in the near future, but he might be an intriguing piece in the bullpen.
I like Rick Renteria. He did a nice job with what he was given when he was here. The move to Joe Maddon was the right one for the organization. I am glad that he got another chance to manage, and I think it is an ideal situation for him with another chance to work with talented youngsters. It is a small twinge, but there was definitely one as the Cubs blew the game with Contreras first inning blast.