It was another hot and windy day at Wrigley Field on Sunday, and the runs were abundant again. It looked early on like it would be an easy Cubs victory, but things got uncomfortably close in the final innings. The home side got just enough offense to hold on for the three-game sweep.
The Twins struck first in the 2nd inning, when center fielder Jake Cave blasted a long solo homer to center off of Jon Lester. The pitcher got his revenge in the bottom half of the inning, when two men reached in front of him with one out. Most people expected a bunt — he is a great bunter, after all — but Big Jon wasn’t up there to bunt. The Cubs ace blasted a long three-run dong to left center. Chicago would add five more runs in the inning on doubles from Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, and Kyle Schwarber.
Despite having an 8-1 lead after two innings, the game never felt in hand with the field conditions as they were. Addison Russell, who would leave the game later after colliding with Baez on a pop-out, rapped an RBI single to make it 9-1. The Twins made it 9-3 in the 5th on a Mitch Garver single and a Cave double. Ian Happ responded the next half inning, crushing a deep solo homer to up the lead to 10-3. Steve Cishek then allowed a two-run dinger to Brian Dozier in the 6th inning.
After a David Bote sacrifice fly increased the lead to 11-5, some confidence started to build. Then the wheels came off in the 8th inning for the Cubs. Newly recalled Dillon Maples got the first two batters he faced to start the frame. Then he allowed a double, a walk, a single, a triple, and finally a two-run homer to Garver to cut the lead to 11-10. Closer Brandon Morrow finished the 8th and pitched around a 9th inning single to seal the 11-10 win. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
The offense again came through in a big way on Sunday, making it the fourth straight game in which the Cubs had scored 10 or more runs. The last time they scored 10 or more for four straight games was 1930. As it turned out, they needed all 11 of them.
I wanted to put the Lester bomb here, but circumstances prevented it. Willson Contreras hit a high fly ball off the wall in left in the 6th inning and ran hard the whole way, just beating the throw for a triple. David Bote, in for the injured Russell, hit a fly ball to center to score Contreras. It seemed superfluous at the time, but that run became the game-winner.
Stats That Matter
- It was not a good day for pitchers, but Lester was reasonably good in spite of that: 5 IP, 4 R, 2 ER, 9 H, 5 K, and 3 BB. Two runs were unearned after a tough error called on Baez. Oh, and did I mention Lester hit a homer? I feel like I should mention that again.
- Happ had a heck of a game on Sunday, with a walk and three hits, including the long homer. His batting average is up to .257 and his OPS is up to .839. He has looked much better the last month, especially considering he was demoted to Iowa according to Twitter.
- Baez had three more hits and had another outstanding swim-move slide on one of his two doubles in the 8th.
- Contreras is starting to heat up with the bat he had three hits on Sunday, including the big triple in the 6th.
The Cubs were able to pull out the win with the help of Morrow late. With the Brewers’ loss in Cincinnati, the Northsiders are tied in the loss column for first.
After an off-day on Monday, the Cubs welcome the Detroit Tigers in for two games starting Tuesday at 1:20pm CT. Kyle Hendricks takes on Michael Fulmer in a game that airs on MLB Network (out of market) and NBC Sports Chicago.