Cubs Record: 9-2 (1st in NL Central; 3 games ahead of St. Louis and Cincinnati)
W: Jake Arrieta (8 IP, 0 ER, 8 K)
L: Christian Bergman (5 IP, 2 ER, 7 K)
MVP: Jake Arrieta
Javier Baez debuted on Jake Arrieta Day. What could possibly make this day better for Cubs fans? Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Soler hitting back-to-back bombs in the 4th, that’s what. It was a little surprising that it took that long for the Cubs’ power to show itself, because Bergman had been throwing plenty of pitches to hit at that point, but it was sweet to witness nonetheless.
Jake Arrieta, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. He was filthier than Jay-Z’s lyrics in The Takeover. He had batters swinging at bad pitches and watching fastballs zoom by them for strike three all day long. He didn’t allow the Rockies to string any hits together, nor did he yield any walks until he put Ryan Raburn on to lead off the top of the 8th. That little hiccup, however, was quickly erased by a 5-4-3 double play. Arrieta’s control was pristine and we, as Cubs fans, have been spoiled by his masterful pitching ever since he started taking the mound in a Cubs uniform.
It has really been a treat to witness his dominance. This was Arrieta’s 23rd straight quality start, and during this streak he’s sported a sub-1 earned run average and has hit one less homer (3) than he’s given up to opposing batters (4). His scoreless streak at Wrigley Field now stands at 48 and 2/3 innings.
Jorge Soler was good in this game, going 2-for-4 with a no-doubter to left-center in the 4th. His approach at the plate today was stellar. He wasn’t swinging at many pitches that were out of the zone and was getting deep into counts. If he can finally start to draw some walks and force pitchers to pitch to him, look out, because he’ll turn out to be a great hitter.
Dexter “Sex!!!!!!” Fowler reached base twice in his four plate appearances today, including a three-run bomb in the 7th that all but sealed this Cubs victory. He has been a fantastic leadoff hitter, posting an on-base percentage that stands at a ridiculous .558 right now. Very few batters are seeing the ball better than he is right now, and I hope he continues to get on base every other plate appearance, which I know is wishful thinking based on his career numbers.
There wasn’t a whole lot the Cubs or Rockies did bad today, but Javier Baez did have a couple defensive blunders early on. In the top of the second inning, Baez fielded a slow, bouncing ball off of Mark Reynolds’ bat behind second base and threw in the general direction of first base. The ball sailed wide, but luckily it didn’t cost the Cubs a base because it hit the barrier between the field and the Rockies dugout and Rizzo got to the ball quickly.
The second miscue came in the third inning when Baez misplayed a grounder that came off of the pitcher’s bat, which allowed Dustin Garneau to reach third with only one out. This also cost the Cubs nothing, as Jake was being Jake and he quickly halted any notion that his scoreless streak at Wrigley would end. The fielding blunders can probably be attributed to Baez getting his baseball legs back; for the rest of the game he was making good plays and looked comfortable over at second.
There wasn’t much ugliness from either team, as the game was played pretty well on both sides of the ball. Well, aside from the Rockies offense having no answers for Arrieta’s assortment of pitches. The one ugly play came in the 8th inning, when Rockies reliever Jason Gurka made a bad pickoff throw to second which went into center field and allowed Javy Baez to advance to third and score the sixth Cubs run on a David Ross sacrifice fly.
The Cubs face the Rockies tomorrow in the rubber match of this three-game series. Jon Lester (1-0, 2.77 era, 0.85 whip) will take the bump for the Cubs and Tyler Chatwood (1-1, 4.38 era, 1.54 whip) will start for the Rockies as the Cubs try to win their fourth straight series to begin the season and push their record to 10-2.