Cubs Record: 16-5
W: Jake Arrieta 5-0
L: Taylor Jungmann 0-4
MVP: Ben Zobrist
Chicago is always a bustling sports city and today was no different. With Jake Arrieta on the mound for the Cubs and the NFL holding its annual draft downtown, the city was poised to be the center of the sports world. On a brisk day that was more football than baseball weather, both starting pitchers had a difficult time finding a rhythm and possibly were wishing they were tailgating at Draft Town in Grant Park.
As the NFL focuses on the first round this evening, the first inning of baseball proved to be a turning point for the outcome of the game. The visiting Brewers put a quick end to any back-to-back no-hitter talk as leadoff man Jonathan Villar hit a broken-bat soft liner to left to begin the game. Consecutive walks to Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy loaded the bases, but Arrieta found enough composure to strike out the next two Brewers to get out of the first unscathed.
The bottom of the first found the Cubs also loading the bases with a Dexter Fowler single, a HBP for Kris Bryant and an Anthony Rizzo walk. The turning point occurred when Aaron Hill was charged with an error on a foul pop fly off the bat of Ben Zobrist which dropped near the Cubs dugout. With new life, Zobrist singled to right to score the first two runs for the Cubs. The rest was pretty much elementary
The Cubs offense continued to add runs throughout the game: David Ross mashed a towering home run in the 3rd, Rizzo and Tommy La Stella roped run-scoring doubles in the 3rd, then two runs scored by putting the ball into play in the 5th and 6th and forcing the Brewers to make plays. Taking advantages of walks, hit batters, and errors is a sign of a very productive offense.
Arrieta was able to battle and come out with a win despite not having his best stuff. The Cubs bullpen was called on to enter the game in the 6th inning for the 2nd straight game and they held the Brewers to one run over four innings. Justin Grimm, Trevor Cahill, Pedro Strop, and Neil Ramirez all threw effectively to close out the 7-1 victory.
Arrieta was unable to maintain a pair of outstanding pitching streaks, which is really more of a sad category on a day where the Cubs still won. In light of reckless criticism by certain “reporters,” the Cubs ace pitched a slightly less than perfect game. His scoreless streak at Wrigley Field ended at 52 2/3 innings, which is a ballpark record and the 2nd best for any pitcher (at home) since 1900. Arrieta was only able to complete 5 innings today, which ended his quality start streak at 24 games, two short of tying the Major League record. Jake’s command was off slightly today as he threw 92 pitches with only 57 going for strikes, walking four in the process.
Injuries are a part of baseball and throughout the course of a 162 game season, they will occur. The great teams have depth to fill in for such circumstances and the Cubs farm system is in good shape to provide help as needed. That said, the loss of Kyle Schwarber was devastating early season news. Today, another catcher found his way onto the disabled list, as Miguel Montero was shelved with back stiffness.
According to the Cubs, this looks to be a temporary situation and Tim Federowicz has been called up to back up David Ross for the time being. The Cubs are keeping catching prospect Willson Contreras in the minors to develop him for a possible stint later in the year.
During the 4th inning today, Kris Bryant tweaked an ankle running the bases and was removed from the game in favor of Javy Baez. At the time of writing, there has been no definitive word on the seriousness of Bryant’s ankle. The Cubs are a solid club and it seems the one kryptonite could be injuries, so let’s hope that the Montero and Bryant situations are temporary.
The Cubs begin a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field at 2:20 CT. On the mound for the Cubs will be Jon Lester (2-1, 1.98) and for the Braves Aaron Blair (0-1, 5.06). Blair was acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Shelby Miller trade and made his MLB debut vs the Mets last Sunday. The game will be televised on CSN.