Crazy 8th inning propels the Cubs to victory
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Crazy 8th inning propels the Cubs to victory

by - Senior Writer -

The Chicago Cubs (38-15) shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks (24-33) 6-0 on Friday in what was the first matchup of a three-game series at Wrigley Field. A five-run bottom of the eighth propelled the Cubs to victory, ensuring a win for starting pitcher John Lackey, who was stellar on the afternoon.

Striking out nine in 6.2 innings pitched, Lackey moved to 6-2 on the year and proved yet again that the Cubs just might have solidified themselves as the best team in baseball by signing the veteran ace in the offseason.

While Lackey did not exactly garner much assistance from the Cubs hitters, first baseman Anthony Rizzo crushed a double to deep center in the bottom of the sixth that scored right fielder Jason Heyward from first. Rizzo, who is one of the National League’s leaders in runs batted in, now has 39 RBI this season, and his sixth inning double enabled Lackey to earn the win for his efforts.

Though his double was the most meaningful moment of the game, Rizzo was also at the center of the game’s wackiest moment. In the bottom of the first, Diamondbacks catcher Wellington Castillo, formerly of the Cubs, accidentally skimmed Rizzo’s batting helmet when throwing the baseball back to the pitcher. Rizzo playfully shoved his former teammate after the incident, and, luckily, the Cubs slugger was not injured by the throw.

Arizona starter Archie Bradley earned the loss after going six innings and giving up one run. However, relievers Zac Curtis and Silvino Bracho ruined any opportunity of a ninth-inning comeback for the D-backs by giving up a combined five runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Despite forcing the first batter of the inning, Heyward, to ground out, Curtis then proceeded to hit left fielder Kris Bryant and allow him to advance to third by giving up a deep single to Rizzo, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. After intentionally walking second baseman Ben Zobrist, Curtis was pulled in favor of Bracho, who, with two outs upon entering, was far from clutch. Bracho gave up two bases-clearing doubles, separated by an intentional walk of catcher Miguel Montero, to shortstop Addison Russell and third baseman Javier Baez, respectively. To make matters worse, a throwing error by Arizona shortstop Chris Owings enabled Baez to score from second. A five-run affair, the bottom half of the eighth secured a W for the Cubs.

The Cubs’ pitchers were solid on the mound Friday, giving up only six total hits. The Diamondbacks’ pitchers only gave up seven themselves, but the abundance of extra-base hits enabled the Cubs to win by a sizable margin. The Diamondbacks will look to experience some success at the plate tomorrow afternoon when they play Game 2 of their series at the Cubs. Young lefty Edwin Escobar will get the start out on the mound for the D-backs, while veteran Jason Hammel, who is a remarkable 6-1 with an impressive 2.09 ERA thus far this season, will get the nod for the Cubs.

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