Anthony Rizzo is doing his part to dispel the myth of Home Run Derby participants being sapped of their powers after the All-Star Break. Rizzo homered again in Saturday’s 4-2 win against the Brewers, marking his fourth consecutive game with a long ball — which coincides with the team’s current four-game winning streak.
- Rizzo is having himself quite a week at the dish. Last night, he was one of two Cubs with two hits and his three-run homer provided enough spark for the Cubs’ offense to get by. Since Monday, Rizzo is 9-for-22 with five of his hits (four homers, one double) going for extra bases. Tack on a pair of walks and his slash line this week is .409/.458/1.000/1.458. Seems like a productive, efficient way to go about your work week.
- Kyle Hendricks scattered four hits, walked only two and struck out six in keeping the Brewers off balance most of the evening as he continues to be a steadying force at the back-end of the rotation. His 11 groundball outs were welcome in a game that was pretty tightly contested throughout. So far this season, Hendricks has pitched to a 2.3 fWAR and 3.33 FIP in 122.2 innings. Last year, he pitched to a 1.6 fWAR and 3.32 FIP in 80.1 innings. It’s early in his career, but he has been a mark of consistency across the span of 203 career innings.
- Kyle Schwarber rebounded from a hitless Friday with a walk and two hits, including a solo homer in the seventh.
- Jason Motte’s recent struggles continued. He allowed one hit (a ninth-inning double to Adam Lind), was charged with an earned run and recorded only one (very loud) out. His appearances have been quite unsettling of late, especially considering what is on the line when he enters the game. But with Hector Rondon pitching in three straight games, Motte was trusted to get three outs with a three-run lead. Unfortunately, Motte couldn’t come up with two more outs.
- Cubs batters not named Kyle Schwarber or Anthony Rizzo went 1-for-24, with Jorge Soler picking up the lone hit. Matt Garza entered Saturday’s start coming off a five-start stretch in which he allowed 21 runs (18 earned) in 29 innings (5.59 ERA) as batters slashed .342/.388/.525/.913 with a .378 BABIP against him in that span.
- Justin Grimm only threw four pitches in retiring Ryan Braun in the eighth inning of Saturday’s win. I don’t think too many fans would have been upset if manager Joe Maddon let him lead off the ninth, sacrificing an out in the process, but likely relying on a far more efficient pitcher in the ninth inning.
OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
- With two outs and two on in the top of the third, Anthony Rizzo deposited the first pitch he saw from Matt Garza into the right field seats to open up the scoring with a three-run homer.
DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
Jorge Soler’s defense has come under fire recently, but he played that ball as well as anyone could have as he tracked it, settled under it and perfectly timed his jump to take away a two-run homer from Khris Davis.
Honorable mention: Addison Russell’s smothering stop, which robbed Ryan Braun of a hit in the sixth.
- Reliever Tommy Hunter recorded the final two outs of the ninth, the last on a harmless fly ball, to secure the win.
Saturday’s full box: Here.
Sunday’s scene setter: The Cubs will send Clayton Richard to the bump as the team seeks a four-game sweep. The Brewers counter with former Cubs farmhand Kyle Lohse, whose 12 losses and 83 earned runs allowed are both league worsts. Milwaukee is 2-4 in his last six starts in which the 152 batters he has faced have slashed .319/.362/.560/.922, resulting in a 6.02 ERA in 34 innings of work.