The Cubs have gotten off to their best start since 2016, and then they had to take an unscheduled four day break. There had to some concern that this might break their momentum. However, the old cliche of momentum being the next day's starter, I guess it would be four days later starter but that isn't as catchy, is true. Jon Lester continued the 2020 redemption tour with another quality start, and the bottom of the Cubs lineup continued to do damage. Tonight's hero was Jason Heyward driving in over half the runs making David Ross's return to Cleveland a happy affair.
Jon Lester was strong as mentioned above, but he started a little shaky. Francisco Lindor singled and Carlos Santana walked with two outs, but a Franmil Reyes punch out ended the threat. Lester pitched a couple of shutdown innings before again working out of a little jam in the fourth inning. Carlos Santana doubled and Reyes walked with one out, but Lester retired the next two batters to keep Cleveland off the board.
Cleveland managed to scratch one run in the sixth inning. Lester plunked Lindor with one out and Reyes doubled to drive in Cleveland's franchise player. The game was well in hand by that point because the Cubs bats had broken the game open in the top half of the frame.
The Cubs managed to only put one run against Cleveland's starter Adam Plutko. Willson Contreras hit a one out single to start the rally. Ian Happ drew a walk and Jason Heyward hit a single back up the middle to drive in Contreras. Victor Caratini grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Cubs leadoff hitter in the next two innings were able to reach, but Cleveland's emergency starter was able to keep the score a 1-0 heading into the fifth inning. Oliver Perez pitched a clean fifth inning, but the bats broke open the game in the sixth inning. Cameron Hill walked Kris Bryant to start the inning. Anthony Rizzo hit a fly out to center, but Javier Baez bounced a single back up the middle. Kyle Schwarber was plunked to load the bases with one out. Willson Contreras drove the ball into deep center to score Bryant. Ian Happ singled back up the middle to extend the Cubs lead to 3-0. Jason Heyward greeted new Cleveland hurler Phil Maton with his second bomb of the season to double the Cubs lead.
The Cubs added another tally in the seventh inning. Jason Kipnis walked against new Cleveland pitcher Logan Allen. Kris Bryant was plunked but the the rally was dampened with Rizzo bouncing into the double play. Kipnis scored on a wild pitch to make it a 7-1 ballgame.
Ryan Tepera and Colin Rea combined to close out the game. Rea ran into a little trouble in the ninth inning. Franmil Reyes singled with one out and Bryant made an error on the next play to give Cleveland a late rally. Rea retired the final two batters to preserve the 7-1 victory.
The Cubs are off to a great start and a quarter of the way into the season have built a commanding lead in the division already. Tonight's performance was nearly flawless. There is almost nothing but good things to say about this club right now.
And that means I have to find some reason to be worried. This year it is whether they will be able to complete the season. The Cardinals have played just five games still. Cleveland's original starter for tonight had to quarantine due to breaking protocols. The fate of the season feels a bit in jeopardy and the specter of a '94 Expos outcome for this Cubs season isn't out of the question. So I am going to try to go to my happy place and not think about that looming possibility.