The 10-3 Cubs entered their match-up with their 2016 World Series foes, the Cleveland Indians, plenty rested. One of the biggest questions surrounding the Cubs was whether or not the postponement of the Cardinals series would hurt their momentum. It was a question they answered quickly behind a strong start by Jon Lester and timely hitting from the back end of the lineup (once again). Unlike our debut game article from their ugly loss in Kansas City, there was plenty to like about the Cubs efforts in this game.
Choosing the “good” was a problematic call tonight. Lester was excellent, pitching to contact effectively to a linescore of 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (earned), 2 BB, 4 SO. Then there was Ian Happ, who was officially handed the keys to the CF job by Cubs skipper, David Ross, earlier in the day. He went 2 for 3 at the plate with a couple of singles, an RBI, and a walk. There was also Jason Kipnis in his first game in Cleveland as a visiting player who had a big game with a double and a run scored, but the hero of tonight’s ballgame was definitely Jason Heyward.
Heyward has taken his fair share of lumps since signing a big contract to come to Chicago. His offensive output has been, at best, inconsistent. At worse, he has gone through stretches where he’s been just plain bad, but no one can question his work ethic, leadership, and stellar defense. In a night where he was bumped back in the lineup to the seventh to make room for Happ’s promotion to sixth, many stars might have slumped their shoulders, but instead, Heyward drove in four with two singles and a three-run homer. Always the consummate pro, Heyward served a reminder to Cubs fans that he has a lot left to offer this deep lineup.
It’s hard to find a lot of bad in a clean win against a good team, but the Cubs, who should never be mistaken for a speedy team, grounded into three double plays. Willson Contreras, Victor Caratini, and Anthony Rizzo all fell victim to the twin killing, though I guess that shouldn’t be all that shocking when you have two catchers in the lineup and a guy with Rizzo’s, well, speed?!
Again, I am definitely stretching things a bit on this one, but I want to remain faithful to the format, so I will choose the ugly sequence of events in the top of the third. Kipnis, mister Dirt Bag himself, lead-off the inning with a sharp double down the line. That meant the top of the order was coming up with a man in scoring position and no outs, which should be a recipe for success. Instead, Kipnis never moved. Kris Bryant flew out to CF, Rizzo popped out to the catcher, and Javier Baez struck out to end the inning. Ugly? Well, it sure wasn’t pretty.
Ross had to juggle the rotation after the multiple days off, so Kyle Hendricks takes the mound for the Cubs against Carlos Carrasco for the Indians. Be sure to tune into the Marquee Network to catch the first pitch at 5:10 pm CT. As always, @TheDugoutNS will be live-tweeting our thoughts throughout the game.
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