The Cubs got to take the good part of the Javy Baez ride on Sunday and they used it to win a key series against the playoff-bound Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kris Bryant started things off when he singled to right with two men out in the top of the 1st. Anthony Rizzo walked and Victor Caratini worked the count to 3-2, so the runners broke on the pitch. Caratini whiffed on the pitch in the dirt, but it went to the backstop and Bryant came all the way around from second to score on the wild pitch strikeout. Starter Zack Godley wound up striking out four in the frame.
Baez singled with one out in the 2nd inning and Jake Arrieta sacrificed him to second to give Jon Jay a chance for an RBI. Jay took advantage, doubling just over David Peralta’s head in left to increase the lead to 2-0.
Arrieta had his good stuff on Sunday, as his ball had wicked movement. He was able to deftly pitch around pretty much all the traffic he got on the base pads. The Cubs needed that, as they stranded runners in scoring position all day long. In the 3rd inning, Bryant doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch, but was gunned out at home on a Caratini grounder.
Arrieta hit trouble in the 5th, walking Ketel Marte and Gregor Blanco to open the inning. After Godley sacrificed the runners over, Peralta hit a sacrifice fly to left to cut the lead in half. The former Cy Young winner got a huge double play from Paul Goldschmidt in the 6th inning and keep the Cubs in the lead.
CJ Edwards relieved Arrieta in the 7th and went 1-2-3 with two strikeouts, really leaning on the curveball with great confidence. Getting him back to his lights-out self will be big down the stretch.
Chicago finally cashed in on a big chance in the 8th inning, when Caratini singled and advanced to second on an Albert Almora Jr. grounder. Arizona then walked Jason Heyward to get a righty-on-righty matchup with Baez. It looked like a wise move when Javy missed Jake Barrett’s pitch in the dirt by two feet.
Of course, the fun of the Baez experience is anything can happen. Down 1-2 in the count, El Mago vaporized a hanging splitter for a three-run bomb to left. Ian Happ followed with a deep shot to right to make it 6-1 Cubs.
Kris Bryant added power to his white-hot stretch with a shot to left-center in the top of the 9th. Wade Davis came on and allowed the daily Goldschmidt homer before closing out the 7-2 Chicago win.
Stats That Matter
- The Cubs got the big effort from Jake Arrieta they needed: 6 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 6 K, and 3 BB. As always with the bearded one, he could have been more efficient, but was great against a nasty lineup.
- Kris Bryant stayed hot on Sunday, getting on base four more times. His work on the bases was great, but his long blast in the 9th is a very good sign his pinkie may be healing.
- Javy Baez had the big blow in the 8th but also scored the winning run in the 2nd. With Mr. Baez you must take the good with the bad. The bad can be very bad at times, but the good…wow.
- One down note: Kyle Schwarber has struck out the last seven times he’s batted.
The Cubs finally combined a good pitching performance with a quality offensive effort. More of that is needed as they move into a weaker part of their schedule. Thanks to the Braves, they are back alone in first.
The Northsiders return to Wrigley to battle the last-place Reds for four. Jose Quintana faces Asher Wojciechowski in a matchup of interesting names that has a 7:05 CT start on WGN.