After splitting the first two games against the Rockies, the Cubs wasted little time taking the lead in the rubber match of the series. Colorado starter German Marquez quickly retired the first two Chicago hitters in the 1st inning before running into trouble. With a 1-2 count on Kris Bryant, Marquez threw up and in, hitting Bryant near the base of the bill of his helmet. The Cubs followed the HBP with four consecutive singles, giving Chicago an early 3-0 lead. A Javy Baez solo home run in the 2nd and a two-run single by Jason Heyward in the 3rd pushed the lead to a comfortable 6-0 advantage.
The Rockies didn’t go quietly, however, as they added two runs in the bottom half of the 3rd before adding on a couple more in the 4th thanks to back-to-back home runs from Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado, making it 6-4.
The two teams each put up a three spot in the 7th inning to make it 9-7 Chicago, but that was as close as Colorado would get as the Cubs walked away with the series-clinching victory (box score).
Why The Cubs Won
For the third time in as many games, the Cubs’ offense put multiple runs on the scoreboard in the first inning, giving starter Jose Quintana a nice cushion before he ever took the mound. Unlike Saturday, Chicago continued to add on runs throughout the game to keep any Colorado comeback attempt at bay.
The Cubs turned to closer Brandon Morrow to start the bottom of the 9th as they nursed a two-run lead. A couple of singles and a walk loaded the bases and with two outs, Ian Desmond came to the plate with a chance to tie the game. On an 0-2 count, a Morrow wild pitch appeared to trim the lead to one run but a review of the play showed Morrow applied the tag before Arenado’s foot touched home, sending the Cubs on their way with a wild victory and series win.
Stats That Matter
- It wasn’t a great start for Quintana, but he actually pitched better than his final line would indicate. All told, the Chicago left-hander went 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. A couple of the runs were a result of bad luck, though, as Heyward lost a fly ball in the sun, turning what would have been the third out of the inning into a two-run triple.
- Baez continued his tear at the plate, finishing Sunday with a double, a home run and three RBIs. Since April 10, Baez has hit .378/.391/.978 with seven home runs and 19 driven in. Enjoy the ride, Cubs fans, because he is as locked in as anyone right now.
- Kyle Schwarber has quietly been a strong presence in the lineup, as he added another two hits and a walk to improve his season line to .293/.414/.552. He has even cut down on his strikeouts of late. Since the start of the Cubs’ home stand April 10, Schwarber has struck out just seven times in 36 plate appearances.
- Albert Almora only had one hit in six at bats, but his play in the field saved Quintana a couple of times, as he made not one, but two diving catches in center to save runs. He also crashed into the CF wall making a running catch in ninth.
The pitching wasn’t the greatest but the offense did enough and the Cubs walked away from Colorado with a series victory. You would love to see the starting pitching start to round into form, but it is always difficult to take too much away from a series in Denver.
The Cubs have Monday off before beginning a brief two-game series in Cleveland against the Indians on Tuesday. Tyler Chatwood (0-3, 4.60) will take the mound for Chicago, as he looks to pick up his first victory with his new team. Cleveland has yet to announce its starting pitcher. First pitch is slated for 5:10 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on WGN. Anyone remember what happened the last time the Cubs went to Cleveland?