The Cubs had a tall task playing the best team in baseball on Saturday afternoon but were able to prevail thanks to a terrific opening inning. The Braves fought back throughout the day at a damp Wrigley Field and came close to tying the game on several occasions before Chicago was able to slam the door.
Mike Tauchman and Nico Hoerner drew consecutive walks against Bryce Elder to begin the 1st inning and moved to second and third with one out for Cody Bellinger. Bellinger hit a ground ball to first baseman Matt Olson who missed the ball for an error that allowed two runs to score.
Dansby Swanson then hit a two-run home run to left-center field to increase the lead to 4-0. Two batters later, Jeimer Candelario crushed a solo shot to right field to make it a five spot in the opening frame.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 5, 2023
Javier Assad, making a spot start for the injured Marcus Stroman, had to battle against Atlanta’s outstanding offense. Orlando Arcia had a sacrifice fly in the 2nd inning and Ozzie Albies knocked a solo home run in the 3rd to cut the advantage to 5-2
Nick Madrigal and Christopher Morel each had RBI singles to add insurance runs in the 4th and 5th innings and put the home team up 7-2. The Braves loaded the bases with three walks against Daniel Palencia in the top of the 6th. A Michael Harris II sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single from Ronald Acuña Jr. put two on the board before Mark Leiter Jr. struck out Austin Riley to escape the jam.
Ian Happ took left-handed reliever A.J. Minter deep in the bottom of the 7th to add a crucial eighth run to the Cubs total. There was more drama in the 9th when Olson hit a two-run homer off of closer Adbert Alzolay but he was able to get the final two batters and preserve the 8-6 victory. (Box score)
Riley represented the go-ahead run when he was up with the bases loaded and two outs in the 6th inning. Leiter was able to get the slugging third baseman to swing through a splitter in the bottom of the zone for a huge strike out.
Why the Cubs Won
They scored early and were able to add insurance runs throughout the game to give just enough support to a bullpen that had to cover the entire game against an explosive Braves lineup.
Stats That Matter
- Assad did as well if you could possibly hope for against Atlanta: 3.2 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 3 K, and 2 BB.
- Swanson made numerous outstanding defensive plays in addition to his homer.
- Candelario hit a double that just missed being his second dinger of the game. David Ross may want to consider hitting him higher than 7th in the lineup.
- Bellinger had a single and a double Saturday.
This was a huge win for Chicago, especially considering that they did not have a typical starter going. The Cubs needed to avoid getting swept by the outstanding Braves and they did that. It also certainly didn’t hurt that all their competition for the playoffs lost Friday night so they didn’t lose any ground and may actually gain some. Now they can play free and loose Sunday and try to steal the series.