The Cubs avoided the sweep in Denver, riding a solid performance from starter Cole Hamels and three multi-run innings to secure the W.
Carlos González got the action going in the 2nd, shaking loose a single from Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela. Victor Caratini doubled and a long single from Jason Heyward put the Cubs up 2-0. Hamels helped himself and kept the line moving with a one-out single. Kyle Schwarber continued his commitment to keeping the fans in the cheap seats engaged, bringing Heyward and Hamels across the plate with a 432-foot homer. By the time the inning ended, the Cubs were up 5-0.
Javy Báez reached on a Rockies error to start the 5th inning, followed by a double from González and a walk by Caratini to load the bases. Jake McGee replaced Senzatela on the mound and got Heyward, but Hamels hit a single to add to the lead. Addison Russell drew a walk to load the bases again, and a sacrifice fly from Schwarber scored Caratini to push the score to 8-0.
With the outcome decided early, the beanball battle was the story in this one. After Hamels plunked Nolan Arenado in the 3rd, the all-world third baseman left the game with a bruised forearm. Reliever Brian Shaw (who Cubs fans may remember from 2016) hit Hamels in the 7th, then Anthony Rizzo got one in the back in the 8th. The home plate umpire issued warnings to both bullpens at that point, but the best response was Javy’s monster two-run blast to put the Cubs ahead 10-0.
After a clean 8th from Kyle Ryan, Brad Brach came on to close the game and stirred things up again by hitting Tony Wolters. Rockies manager Bud Black came out to discuss it with home plate umpire, but Brach stayed in the game and finished it off with just one run allowed. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Offense, a little luck, and some more offense. The Cubs scored on sacrifice flies and home runs, and almost every player managed to get on base during the game. The offensive output was complemented by some grit on Hamels’ part, as he worked himself out of several early jams and seemed to improve as the game went on.
Hamels worked himself out a few early jams, including a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the bottom of the 1st. He also escaped first and third with two out in the bottom of the 3rd. Caratini had a good defensive moment in the bottom of the 2nd, laying out to catch a bunt attempt from Senzatela.
Stats That Matter
- Hamels pitched seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts, zero earned runs (bringing his ERA down to 2.98), one walk, and one HBP.
- Báez’s 8th inning home run was his 17th of the season, bringing him to 46 RBI on the year and 98 career home runs.
- Schwarber’s rough go Tuesday night may have been a blip. He stuck with his first-pitch fastball strategy and crushed his 14th home run of the season in the 2nd inning, then got the sacrifice fly to score Caratini in the 5th.
The Cubs obviously wanted to do better to start their West Coast trip, but will hopefully feel bolstered by their getaway-day success. After some rough spots the last few games, the bullpen got a little space to breathe with the long outing from Hamels. Whether it was the lineup tweaks, the thin air, or Senzatela missing the plate, the offense also caught up to expectations.
The Cubs head further west to visit the Dodgers to kick off a four-game series. Clayton Kershaw gets the start for LA against Jon Lester. First pitch is at 9:10pm CT and you can watch on NBC Sports Chicago+ or listen on 670 The Score.