After losing their best hitter (at least over the last month or so) and dropping two of three to the lowly Giants, Chicago was looking to rebound. Luckily the offense came to play Friday night in Arizona against the Diamondbacks.
The Cubs rallied immediately against Tajiuan Walker in the top of the 1st as Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist each singled and Kyle Schwarber walked to load the bases. Alex Avila worked a walk and a second run scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0.
John Lackey walked two batters ahead of Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the inning, signaling all kinds of bad things. Then, amazingly, Lackey coaxed a ground ball double-play from the guy who has killed the Cubs in his career. And Lackey pitched well from there, for the most part.
The Cubs extended the lead in the 2nd inning, when Jon Jay was hit by a pitch with two out. He stole second and scored when Bryant singled to left and was gunned down advancing an extra base.
Lackey finally hit a snag in the bottom of the 5th inning. Catcher Chris Herrmann hit a perfectly-placed infield single to third and David Peralta smoked a no-doubt two-run homer to right to reduce the lead to 3-2.
The Northsiders answered back immediately in the top of the 6th. Walker was over 100 pitches but remained in the game, which was not a wise move. Schwarber and Avila hit back-to-back bombs to dead center to restore a three-run lead.
The Cubs couldn’t keep Goldschmidt down for long. The burly first baseman took Lackey deep to right for a solo shot in the bottom of the 6th inning, ending the starting pitchers night.
After Arizona stranded two in the 7th, Chicago rallied in the 8th against lefty TJ McFarland. Javy Baez singled home Albert Almora Jr., then scored from first on a hit-and-run single from Ian Happ (Javy actually ran through a stop sign at third to score). Jon Jay followed by singling home Happ to make it 8-3.
Pedro Strop, who got the last out of the 7th, got the heart of the D-Backs order 1-2-3 in the 8th. Mike Montgomery finished off the 8-3 Cubs victory.
Stats That Matter
- John Lackey was wild at first, but limited the damage in his outing: 5.1 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 7 K, and 3 BB. That’s more than enough from a fifth starter against a good lineup.
- Kris Bryant got on base five times on Friday with three hits and two walks. Would like to see more power from him, but that will do fine.
- Alex Avila walked twice in addition to his long homer. He will get a lion’s share of the starts at catcher with Willson Contreras hurt.
The rest of the Cubs offense had to show up with Contreras sidelined. At least for one game they did, preserving their one game lead for another day.
Game two of the series is Saturday night at 7:10 CT. Jon Lester faces the man he homered off of, Patrick Corbin, and the game can be seen on MLB Network (out of market) and WGN.