After two disappointing losses against the Reds the past two games, the Cubs looked to salvage the final game Sunday afternoon. With excellent starting pitching and a great day at the plate from an emerging star, they succeeded.
Chicago struck the first blow against Cincinnati starter Tim Adleman in the 2nd inning. Willson Contreras walked and was driven home when Ian Happ hit a low laser out of the park to dead center.
Jake Arrieta had very good stuff on Sunday afternoon. It was vintage 2015 Arrieta, lots of missed bats and weak ground balls against a dangerous Reds lineup.
Happ wasn’t close to done after his home run in the 2nd. The Cubs centerfielder took Adleman deep to right for a solo blast in the 4th inning, his second of the game and number 12 for the season. Ben Zobrist (good to see him back) walked and Contreras singled off reliever Blake Wood, putting runners on the corners in the 6th. Happ (who else?) singled to left to score Zobrist and increase the lead to 4-0.
Anthony Rizzo didn’t want Happ to hog all the glory, so he took Austin Brice very deep to left to up the lead to 5-0.
That cushion was more than enough for Arrieta, who only allowed a single to Joey Votto and two walks in his seven innings. An even better sign is that 11 of his 21 outs were generated on the ground.
In a odd turn of events, Happ hit into a bizarre double play in the 8th inning. He grounded to third with Contreras on first and the infield playing deep. Happ was out on a close play at first, but Contreras broke for third and appeared to beat the throw back from Votto. The Cubs challenged the out call at first while the Reds challenged the safe call at third. That’s right, a simultaneous double challenge. In the end, both went Cincy’s way.
After the insanity, Addison Russell singled and Javy Baez doubled him home to make it a 6-0 game.
Justin Grimm and Koji Uehara had some issues after relieving Arrieta in the 8th, only recording an out apiece while allowing loading the bases for Votto, who singled to knock in two and cut the lead to 6-2. Carl Edwards Jr. came on and whiffed the dangerous Adam Duvall to suppress the uprising.
Pedro Strop entered in the 9th and closed out the 6-2 Cubs victory.
Stats That Matter
- It was very nice to see this Jake Arrieta again: 7 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 6 K, and 2 BB. For the team’s sake and for the big guy’s financial interests, more starts like Sunday’s will really help.
- Ian Happ enjoyed his college reunion this weekend. The former Cincinnati Bearcat had a huge game with two homers and four knocked in, giving him six hits in the three-game series. It doesn’t look like Happ is going back down to Des Moines any time soon.
- Javy Baez had been looking lost at the plate the last couple days. Not so Sunday, when he had three hits including two doubles.
The Northsiders just finished a stretch of 20 games in which 17 were on the road. Fitting in with the trend in 2017, they went 10-10 during that time. If they want to salvage the season, the homestand before the All-Star break is the time to start.
The Cubs are finally back at Wrigley Field on Independence Day against the Rays. It’s a traditional 1:20 start as John Lackey does battle with Blake Snell, with WGN carrying the game.