In the month of August, the Chicago Cubs played the Arizona Diamondbacks a total of six times, but managed to win just three of those games.
And while splitting a six-game series against one of the better teams in baseball this year is a perfectly fine outcome, it’s a bit brow-raising when you consider that the Cubs out-scored them 41-28 (+13 run differential). Play those six games 100 times over with that run differential and more times than not you’re winning at least 4 of those games.
In any case, that run differential was padded yesterday with a 7-2 win, which featured three late-inning, lead-widening home runs. And it was all kicked off with back-to-back shots from Javy Baez and Ian Happ in the top of the 8th inning.
Take a look:
Creating some distance. pic.twitter.com/XleaRwOMm5
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 14, 2017
With one out and two on in the top of the eighth inning, the Cubs were clutching to a tiny 2-1 lead. But then, Javy Baez continued his torrid (seriously have you seen the numbers lately?) second-half with a monster three-run shot out to left-center field.
That homer was Baez’s 7th of the second-half and 17th of the season (which ranks 5th on the Cubs). It was also, as Statcast points out, the longest home run of his career at 463 feet! You can see him talk about it here at ESPN.com.
For the season, Baez’s slash line is now up to .270/.310/.492, good for a 98 wRC+. That may be two percent worse than league average this season, but it’s tied for his best overall offensive performance in the Majors yet.
But that’s arguably a pessimistic way to look at his season. Consider that, since the All-Star break, Baez is slashing .310/.356/.607, which is good for a 138 wRC+. That’s second to only Corey Seager among NL shortstops.
On top of that, if you cut out just his first 13 games of the season, Baez has been a solidly above average bat (108 wRC+) in his past 89 games (309 PAs). That’s pretty fantastic, all things considered. But that’s enough about Baez, let’s move onto Happ.
As you can see in the video above, Happ immediately followed up Baez’s homer with his 15th of the season – a solo shot that extended the Cubs lead to 6-1.
Although Happ’s season numbers (109 wRC+) look slightly better than Baez’s, he hasn’t quite had a nice second half: .224/.312/.358 (78 wRC+). Hopefully, that homer will help get Happ going, and return him to being the offensive spark he was for the Cubs earlier this year.
The Cubs ended their eighth-inning onslaught after Happ’s homer, but Bryant tacked on one more run with a monster shot to center field leading off in the top of the ninth:
That homer was Bryant’s 21st of the season, and left the bat at 103.0 MPH. It was also, as Brett pointed out yesterday, the end to a ridiculously productive series, in which he recorded 9 hits (three for extra bases) and three walks in 15 plate appearances. That’s a series slash line of .818/.867/1.273 (429 wRC+). LOL.
And suddenly, Kris Bryant’s second-half slash line is downright formidable: .362/.420/.533. He’s got just a .171 ISO and only three homers during that stretch, but that overall slash line is one you take every single day.
Here’s an updated look at the Cubs home run leaderboard: