The Cubs dropped the first three games to the Diamondbacks because they could only scratch out four total runs. It didn’t help that the wind was blowing in, but no one seemed able to come up with a big hit when they most needed it. That wasn’t an issue on Sunday as they jumped ahead early and then pounded a trio of homers to effectively end the game early.
Kyle Hendricks was sharp from the start, striking out the first two batters he faced in a 13-pitch opening inning. Christopher Morel, who had stumbled his way to a 17 wRC+ over the last month, tripled on the first pitch he saw to put his team in a great position to score. However, Morel was wiped off the board three pitches later when he tried to scoot home on a Nico Hoerner comebacker to Joe Mantiply.
Hoerner was able to steal second and then came in to score on a Seiya Suzuki double to kinda-sorta ease the hand-wringing over the missed opportunity earlier. Hendricks kept the Snakes off the board for the next two innings and then the Cubs broke things open against Brandon Pfaadt, who was initially slated to start before Torey Lovullo opted for an opener.
Pfaadt had given up 17 homers in his previous 15 starts, which was exactly what the Cubs needed in this one. Morel homered on the second pitch he saw, giving him seven bases on three pitches, and it felt as though a weight just disappeared from the Cubs’ shoulders. After Hoerner flied out and Suzuki struck out, Cody Bellinger blasted a solo shot to right center.
Four pitches later, Dansby Swanson smashed a Pfaadt pfaastball to left center and the 4-0 lead felt much bigger. It also looked very necessary for a while, as Hendricks was very shaky to open the 5th. An automatic double followed by back-to-back singles got the D-backs on the board and put runners on first and second with no outs. Then Ian Happ made a sliding catch on a liner to left and threw to second for a double play. A harmless pop ended the threat.
Hendricks again ran into trouble the next inning, giving up a single and double, then he got a pop-out and a sac fly before walking a batter and coming out of the game. Jose Cuas came in and got a grounder to avoid further damage and keep the score at 5-2. Wait, I forgot about the Cubs’ other run.
Hoerner singled to open their half of the 5th, then stole second with two outs and came around to score on a Swanson single. Nothing much happened the rest of the way as the bullpens held their own. (Box score)
The Morel homer broke the dam and made it feel like the offense had finally found its footing again, even though the Cubs were only up 2-0 at the time. Hitting two subsequent homers furthered that sense and built a secure lead.
Why the Cubs
They finally generated some power after living on the warning track for the first three games of the series.
Stats That Matter
- Hendricks picked up the W despite some late issues: 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 4 K, 1 BB.
- Hoerner stole two bags and is up to 38 on the season.
- Bellinger joined the 25/20 club with his homer.
The Cubs pushed their lead over the D-backs back to two games and closed the gap with the Brewers to three games. Losing three straight games really sucked, but they can make up for it with three in Denver against the Rockies and then three more against these same D-backs in Arizona. Just win, baby.
The Cubs head west to face the Rockies with Jordan Wicks taking on an as-yet-unnamed starter. First pitch is at 7:40pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.