It was starting to feel like a bit of a mantra: when the Cubs start hitting, when the Cubs start hitting. Even those of us who believed it would happen were crossing our fingers, knocking wood, and rubbing our rabbits’ feet while repeating the expectant phrase. But the offensive struggles dragged on well past the scheduled due date.
Saturday’s game was far from a romp, but there were some moments that made you feel pretty darn good about what the Cubs are going to be able to do. Anthony Rizzo, who’s dearth of power I had lamented only a few days ago, launched his 4th homer in as many games into the rightfield seats at Miller Park in the 3rd to put the Cubs up 3-0.
The Rizzo shot followed a Chris Coghlan walk, but it was the Kyle Schwarber at-bat that really set things up. With two outs and no one on, Schwarber took the first four pitches and found himself in a 2-2 count. He then proceeded to foul off the next 6 pitches before lacing a single to center. I don’t think anyone’s still questioning the Cubs’ choice in last year’s draft.
Oh, the kid wasn’t done either. Schwarber’s 7th-inning AB started out much the same as the one I just chronicled, as he kept the bat on his shoulder through each of the first 5 pitches he saw. That’s two two-seamers, two curves, and a slider. When you consider the fact that this is a guy who hasn’t even finished his first cup of coffee, that patient approach is just unreal.
But no one can abstain forever, which is why Schwarber finally decided to swing at the sixth pitch he saw.
Not sure what I can say about this, other than…
Jason Motte is a guy who’s becoming all too easily associated with some loud noises of his own, which is to say he’s allowing some really big contact to opposing bats. After giving up a leadoff double to Adam Lind, Motte grooved one to Khris Davis and had to rely on the glove of Jorge Soler to bail him out.
This is not the kind of play on which I would like to rely moving forward. But hey, it worked, so I’ll shut up. But there was one more loud noise to be heard on the night, as new acquisition Tommy Hunter popped the glove with some serious heat. It’s likely the new guy had a little adrenaline helping him, but I’m sure some of it was just the happiness of a new situation. Being in Chicago allows Hunter to be close to his mother, who is battling cancer in Hunter’s hometown of Indianapolis.
If all goes well, mom will be able to hear her son pop the glove with more of those 99 mph heaters like the one he threw to Hernan Perez in the 9th on Saturday. Not bad for a middling reliever, huh? I’m not sure every manager in the game would be willing to throw a brand new pitcher into a situation like that, but Joe Maddon is the same guy who keeps running Motte out in the 9th, so who knows.
What I do know is that winning feels really good and confidence in your team to be able to do what it takes to win is pretty nice too. The Cubs are getting back to where they were a couple months ago, when you just knew they were going to pull games out. That couldn’t come at a better time, either, as their schedule’s about to get a lot more difficult.
But if they can keep launching balls into the bleachers, their opponents are going to have to ask what all the yelling’s about.