Coming into tonight, the Cubs had lost five games in a row, had not scored a run in 20 innings, and had managed just 13 hits in this series against the Braves. But tonight? Oh, baby … they woke up, notching 9 runs on 16(!) hits including multi-hit performances from five different batters: Anthony Rizzo (3), Matt Duffy (2), Kris Bryant (2), Jason Heyward (2), and Nico Hoerner (2). Duffy had a particularly good game, reaching base four times, bringing his OBP up to .432. It’s still early (even moreso for a part-time player like Duffy), but that might be something to keep an eye on.
But, yes, every single batter in the starting line lineup had at least one knock tonight. And yet somehow, that wasn’t even the story of the night (no, I’m not talking about the Bears new quarterback).
That honor belongs to Adbert Alzolay, who had yet another really strong performance, this time lasting 6.0 full innings for the first time in his career. He was throwing hard (sitting 95-96 MPH with his four-seamer) and he was absolutely pinpointing his slider in that lower outside (to righties) corner of the zone. Braves batters just couldn’t touch it (10 whiffs on that pitch, alone) and were often caught looking when he would pepper a 95 MPH fastball in the exact same spot. It really was a dominant performance and something I hope we get to see over and over during the next … long time (man, it is just so nice to have a starter that can throw hard).
Alzolay also had his first career hit tonight, so it was a memorable one all around.
Ryan Tepera came in to start the seventh, but ran into some trouble when he allowed the first two batters to reach ahead of Ronald Acuña Jr., who did his thing, knocking in a run on a not-terribly-placed pitch. But the Sheriff, Andrew Chafin, came in immediately after and cleaned things up (not only did he get out of the inning … he got out of it by kick-starting a double-play with an accurate throw to second base on a comebacker to the mound … something every pitcher seems to struggle with).
There’s always going to be talk about “feast or famine” with this group, and that’s both fair and accurate, but it’s not like the Cubs lived by the long-ball tonight. The only homer was from Jake Marisnick. Everything else was manufactured (sac flys, stolen bases, singles, doubles, triples … they even balked in a run). Call it whatever you want, but tonight was a good night.
Way to salvage the series, Cubs. Now try to keep it going this time.