A Tip of the Recap — 4/26 (Cubs 4, Brewers 3)

Cubs Record: 15-5

W: Adam Warren (2-0)

L: Jimmy Nelson (3-2)

SV: Hector Rondon (4)

MVP: Addison Russell

Through the early goings of the 2016 season, one of the most impressive facets about this Cubs team is how relentless the lineup can be. Even on a night where the northerly wind effectively muted any elevated ball, the Cubs just kept fighting and chipping away at Brewers starter, Jimmy Nelson. It’s easy to look at the box score and see Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward each putting up oh-fers tonight, but that hardly told the whole story. Fowler had several strong at-bats, saw 26 pitches in his five plate appearance,s and came a stiff breeze away from hitting his fourth home run of the year.

On the mound, Kyle Hendricks delivered another strong performance, though he was lifted after five innings for strategic reasons. Hendricks racked up four strikeouts and limited major damage, allowing only one run on an Aaron Hill sacrifice fly. From there, Adam Warren gave two innings of relief without blemish, but Pedro Strop struggled in the 8th, failing to get all three outs in the inning and giving up a two-run, pinch-hit double to Ryan Braun. Travis Wood was called upon to get the final out of the inning before Hector Rondon nailed down the ninth.

The Good

There’s a few people certainly deserving of this honor tonight, including Kyle Hendricks who took a no-decision despite five innings of one-run ball, and the bullpen who did their part to keep the Cubs in the game. But this Cubs offense just wore Jimmy Nelson down, forcing him to throw 109 pitches in less than six innings.

The patience shown from this team, top to bottom is impressive. It’s been said, both here and elsewhere, that there may not be an easy out in this entire lineup, and with each passing night, that may just be true. David Ross, though not particularly known for his offensive prowess, did his part, going 1-3 with a critical sac bunt that set up the first Cubs run in the fifth.

In the sixth, Addison Russell hit a two-run triple to the gap, scoring Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist. It’s good to see Russell, who has been in a BABIP-induced slump for much of the season, starting to heat up again. He’s been hitting the stuffing out of the ball, but has little to show for it so far. I also feel obligated to mention Javier Baez’s ludicrous stolen base in the seventh. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s below and it’s pretty darn nifty.

The Bad

It’s no secret that Wrigley can be notoriously inconsistent as a pitcher’s/hitter’s park. Typically, the warmer the weather, the friendlier the Friendly Confines are to hitters. On a colder April night with the wind blowing in, however, it’s a pitcher’s haven.

Tonight, Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo each hit a pair of July home runs that turned into April flyouts just shy of the warning track. Such is life, and the Cubs were able to adapt. Last weekend in Chicagoland, temperatures reached the high 70’s, so perhaps, mercifully, Spring/Summer is around the corner and home runs will start flying in greater frequency at 1060 W. Addison.

The Ugly

On Tuesday, Jake Arrieta started facing some questions over whispers of steroid use. Arrieta was quick to deny, and there’s no concrete report tying him to any PED’s. Perhaps this an unfortunate consequence of the Steroid Era, which has forced pundits and fans to question the legitimacy of a sudden career improvement.

Arrieta, a former top-level prospect in the Orioles organization, has blossomed in his time in Chicago under pitching coach Chris Bosio. Arrieta’s success has been largely attributed to his diet and strict exercise routine, and there’s been nothing to suggest cheating.

Coming Attractions

Speaking of Arrieta, the Cubs will turn to their reigning Cy Young on Wednesday against the Brewers at 7:05 pm, local time. Arrieta, of course, is coming off of his no-hitter against the Reds last Thursday.

For the Brewers, Taylor Jungmann will take the hill and will be trying to improve on what has been a poor start to the 2016 season. Jungmann is 0-3 with a 8.47 ERA is coming off a loss to the Minnesota Twins last Thursday in which he lasted just four innings, giving up three earned runs and six walks.

If you’re in the Chicagoland area, the game will be played WGN-9.

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