Let’s get right to it and recap the Cubs rain-shortened home stand against the Brewers and Braves:
Brewers @ Cubs
Cubs 4, Brewers 3
W: Warren (2-0) L: Nelson (3-2) SV: Rondon (4)
The game was tied at one until the sixth inning when Addison Russell hit a two-run triple with two outs. Kris Bryant reached on a fielding error by third baseman Aaron Hill, then one out later, Ben Zobrist walked, and reliever Carlos Torres got Jorge Soler to fly out to right, Russell then came to the plate and hit the tie-breaking triple. Both starting pitchers, Jimmy Nelson and Kyle Hendricks, pitched well to start the game. Nelson pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up three runs (1 earned) two hits, struck out six and walked four. Hendricks on the other hand pitched five innings and gave up only one run on two hits, struck out four and walked one. Hendricks expected to go deeper in the game but was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. The Cubs had two runners on and nobody out against Nelson, and both runners advanced on David Ross‘ sacrifice bunt. Hendricks had thrown 69 pitches at that point and could have gone deeper in the game but was pulled for pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella, who drew a walk to load the bases. The Cubs hadn’t had many opportunities up to this point so they had to take advantage of it and they were able to tie the game on Dexter Fowler‘s sacrifice fly. Ryan Braun started the game on the bench but he did some damage with his lone at-bat. Braun came in to pinch-hit in the eighth and hit a two-run double to right field with one out, which put the Brewers back only one run. Pedro Strop was able to get Domingo Santana to strike out swinging and Travis Wood then came in and got Jonathan Villar to pop out to Zobrist. Hector Rondon then came out and picked up his fourth save of the season.
Cubs 7, Brewers 2
W: Arrieta (5-0) L: Jungmann (0-4)
Jake Arrieta did not come out and pitch his second straight no-hitter, but his impressive pitching performances continued. He gave up one run, three hits and four walks in five innings; Alex Presley‘s fifth-inning RBI double ended Arrieta’s home scoreless streak at 52 2/3 innings; this was the first run allowed at Wrigley Field since July 25th. Ben Zobrist hit a two-run single in the first inning off Brewers’ starter Taylor Jungmann, who gave up five runs, six hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. Brewers pitchers would end up walking a total of 11 batters in the game. The offense continued for the Cubs as catcher David Ross hit a solo home run onto Waveland Avenue in the second, and Anthony Rizzo and Tommy La Stella added RBI doubles in the third for a 5-0 lead. The Cubs would add another run in each of the fifth and sixth inning, grabbing both the W for the day but also the series win.
Braves @ Cubs
Cubs 6, Braves 1
W: Strop (1-0) L: Johnson (0-3)
A successful team is one that has multiple players contributing instead of just relying on one or two hitters. That is exactly what the Cubs have. The game was tied at one in the bottom of the eight inning as pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella doubled to left off Jim Johnson before getting forced out at third on Dexter Fowler’s fielder’s choice. Jason Heyward then walked and Ben Zobrist singled to load the bases. The Braves pulled Johnson but Rizzo welcomed reliever Eric O’Flaherty with a single to center to score Fowler and give the Cubs the 2-1 lead. With Heyward standing at third, Zobrist at second and Rizzo at first, then came Matt Szczur, who launched an 0-1 pitch from Chris Withrow into the left-field bleachers for his second home run of the season and first grand slam of his career. Szczur has been a great asset for the Cubs, he’s a good and versatile player to have and has contributed in big situations. Cubs’ starter Jon Lester gave up a solo home run to Freddie Freeman in the fourth inning but the Braves didn’t do much after that. The Braves had their chances but were unable to take advantage of them. They had the bases-loaded against Lester in the seventh inning but he was able to escape. Drew Stubbs struck out swinging, Jace Peterson was called out on strikes and Nick Markakis grounded out to Anthony Rizzo. Lester didn’t get a decision as he left after seven innings with the game tied at one. He struck out 10 and walked two while allowing one run on seven hits. Pedro Strop worked one inning of relief for the victory and Hector Rondon finished off the game in a non-save situation.
4/30: Postponed-Inclement Weather
Braves 4, Cubs 3
W: Vizcaino (1-0) L: Rondon (0-1) SV: Grilli (2)
John Lackey pitched a great game, so much so that it was the best outing with the Cubs. He gave up three runs (2 earned) three hits, walked three and struck out two over eight innings. The right-hander retired the first nine batters he faced. The Cubs were down 3-0 until the bottom of the eight. They still trailed 3-2 in the ninth against Arodys Vizcaino when Ben Zobrist walked, and one out later, reached third on a throwing error by the Braves pitcher. Addison Russell then hit an RBI single to right to tie the game. That’s where the magic ended and the Cubs were unable to complete the comeback. Daniel Castro singled and scored on Nick Markakis’ sacrifice fly in the tenth inning. Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless tenth for his second save and the Braves won for just the sixth time in 24 games despite blowing a 3-0 lead. Arodys Vizcaino got the win despite allowing the Cubs to tie the game. Braves starter Julio Teheran threw seven scoreless innings, gave up only two hits, walked one and struck out nine. Life goes on, and the Cubs continue to hold the best record in the majors entering their series in Pittsburgh.
Next up for the Cubs:
* The Cubs start a three-game series with the Pirates tonight; this is their first meeting since last year’s wild-card game! This should be a fun series and expect a lot of competition from the Pirates, it won’t be easy for the Cubs and it will be good to see how they fare against a very good Division rival. They will likely be without Jason Heyward due to a sore wrist, though he’s supposed to be day-to-day:
Jason Heyward scratched from Monday's lineup with sore wrist, but right now #Cubs see it as a day-to-day situation.
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) May 2, 2016
Jason Heyward has been dealing with a nagging wrist issue since the season's second series in Arizona and hopes a few days off will help.
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) May 2, 2016
That might partially explain the slow start, and while it’s admirable that he would want to try to play through it, wrist injuries aren’t pleasant and I kind of wish he had gotten it taken care of earlier. It seems that this isn’t of major concern right now, so let’s see how it plays out. Heyward is supposedly available for pinch-hitting duties.
Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Tuesday, May 3, 6:05 PM CDT
Jake Arrieta, RHP v. Jonathon Niese, LHP
TV: WPWR, MLBN (Out of market only) Radio: 670 The Score
Wednesday, May 4, 11:35 AM CDT
Jon Lester, LHP v. Juan Nicasio, RHP
TV: CSN, MLBN (Out of market only) Radio: 670 The Score
Thanks for reading and as always, Go Cubs!