The Cubs sought to earn a split of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Brewers Sunday. After sweeping the Reds, the uninspired Chicago effort against Milwaukee on Friday sapped a momentum. This time, however, the Cubs took a page out of 2016 and buried the Brewers with longballs to earn that mojo back.
Joe Maddon shook up his batting order, hitting Ben Zobrist leadoff and moving everyone else down a spot. The move paid immediate dividends as Zobrist took Brew Crew starter Chase Anderson deep to right to open the bottom of the 1st.
Then Kyle Schwarber walked and Kris Bryant singled to put two on with one out for Ian Happ, who smoked a double off the top of the wall to score War Bear. A Willson Contreras sac fly made it 3-0 before fans even got settled.
Kris Bryant took Anderson deep to right-center for a solo shot in the 3rd inning to make it 4-0. Contreras and Addison Russell doubled back-to-back in the 4th to increase the lead to 5-0.
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta was cruising through 4 innings, keeping the ball on the ground. But he ran into trouble in the 5th when he committed an error on a weak grounder back to the mound. The bases were eventually loaded with none out, but Arrieta escaped only allowing one run.
Bryant took care of that run quickly, hitting his second homer of the day into the leftfield basket in the bottom of the frame.
The Cubs added two more runs to their lead in the 6th inning when Contreras scored on a wild pitch by reliever Rob Scahill. Pinch hitter Jon Jay then scored on an odd play after Schwarber hit a ball into shallow left that was eaten up by the shift. It was a close play and the throw went wide of the first baseman but was backed up cleanly. While the Brewers stood around, Jay came in from second base to make it 8-1 Cubs.
Contreras hit another sac fly in the 7th to make it 9-1 and an Anthony Rizzo two-run bomb keyed a four-run 8th inning to run a 13-1 bloodbath. Newly recalled Dylan Floro gave up some garbage time runs but closed out the 13-6 victory.
Stats That Matter
- Kris Bryant is molten lava right now. In addition to his two home runs, he also singled and was hit twice by pitches (both seemed to be accidental). Bryant is totally capable of carrying a team for a week or more when he’s this hot.
- Jake Arrieta made his best start of the season: 6 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 H, 6 K, and 1 BB. The Cubs need him to pitch this way to reach their full potential. One downside was another high pitch count that forced him out in the 6th inning.
- Willson Contreras had a big game on Sunday. Two singles, a double, and two sac flies gave him 3 RBI and a pair of runs scored.
The Cubs scored in every inning but the 2nd on Sunday. It really felt like the overpowering 2016 attack that laid waste to the National League. If they can finish strong against the Giants this can be a very successful homestand.
The Giants come to Wrigley for a four-game series starting Monday night. John Lackey, who has pitched well of late, faces lefty Ty Blach at 7:05 CT. The game airs on WGN locally — check here for your affiliate — and MLB Network nationally.