Cubs slaughter Rockies behind Baez's four-hit night
|Saturday, April 21, 2018, 12:16 AM- -|
DENVER — Friday night served as the " Javier Baez Show" at Coors Field, with the electrifying Chicago Cubs infielder going 4-6 with four RBI and inciting the Cubs as part of a dominant 16-5 win on the road. Scoring 16 runs on 18 hits, the Cubs used a seven-run sixth inning to pull away from the Colorado Rockies and earn their second straight win.
The thin air of Denver played a major part early, with each team hitting a home run in the opening inning. Cubs second baseman Javier Baez continued his recent hot streak by powering his sixth home run of the season over the wall in right to put the Cubs up 2-0. Prior to that, Cubs center fielder Albert Almora, Jr., continued to make his case for being the regular leadoff man for Chicago by starting the game off with a hit. Almora went 4-6 and scored four times on the evening, putting together his first career four-hit performance.
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado quickly erased the Rockies' early deficit in the bottom half of the first. After Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon drove home DJ LeMahieu on an RBI single to even the score, Arenado hit a line-drive homer off the top of the wall in right to put Colorado up 3-2. Making his return after a lengthy suspension for his now-infamous mound charge, Arenado made an impact right off the bat (both literally and figuratively).
Kyle "The Professor" Hendricks started on the mound for the Cubs, overcoming a shaky beginning to his outing and going on to strike out six in five innings pitched. Following the Arenado dinger, Hendricks's lone issues came from opposing pitcher Jon Gray, who was more effective with the bat than the ball. Gray went 2-2 at the plate but was never brought home, as the Rockies struggled to manufacture offense after the opening frame.
Chicago had a golden opportunity to open the floodgates in the third after loading the bases with no outs, but it could muster only one run. First baseman Anthony Rizzo, who has been struggling with the bat as of late, hit a grounder to shortstop that resulted in an easy double play but enabled Almora, Jr., to score.
The Cubs took the lead for good in the fifth, though, taking advantage of the gutsy play of Baez. After hitting a one-out double, Baez made the risky decision of darting to third base on a grounder to shorstop by Kris Bryant. Originally called out on the tag attempt, video review resulted in the call being reversed. The risk paid off for Baez in the next at-bat, with the spark plug coming home on an RBI grounder from Rizzo.
The Rockies nearly blew the game in the fifth due to a comedy of errors, with two errors and a wild pitch resulting in Bryant scoring with ease and catcher Willson Contreras making it to third. While the Rockies escaped with just a two-run deficit, Chicago poured it on in the proceeding inning.
As part of a seven-run frame, Addison Russell led off with a single for the Cubs, next scoring on Jason Heyward's first triple of the year to put Chicago up 6-3. Following an ensuing five-pitch walk of Tommy La Stella, Gray was yanked after five innings of eight-hit, three-walk ball. Unbelievably, he was arguably pulled too soon, as Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw imploded on the hill.
Following an RBI single by Almora, Jr., Baez earned his third and fourth RBI of the game on a two-run single to right that provided Chicago with a commanding 9-3 advantage. Bryant followed that up with a double to deep center, with the ball just clearing the outstretched glove of Blackmon, and, later in the inning, Schwarber blasted his fourth round-tripper of the season, taking a pitch by Shaw well over the wall in center.
The Rockies (11-10) added a run in the bottom of the seventh off of Cubs (9-8) relief pitcher Mike Montgomery, as DJ LeMahieu scored Ryan McMahon on an RBI groundout, but the Cubs went on to win handily. Rizzo crossed the plate on an RBI double by Contreras in the eighth, and Schwarber then brought home Contreras on a liner to center. Schwarber collected three RBI on the evening and now boasts 12 overall. Heyward, who went 2-4, picked up an RBI on an infield single to third base that scored Schwarber, and Almora scored his fourth run of the matchup in the ninth. Colorado collected a meaningless run against the Cubs' Justin Wilson in the ninth, leading to the 16-5 final tally, the Rockies' first double-digit loss of the season. The 16 runs marked the highest run total amassed by the Cubs against the Rockies since 1996.
Hendricks picked up his first winning decision of 2018 because of it, moving to 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA. Gray, who was charged with five earned runs, received the loss to fall to 1-4. Baez was the hero for Chicago, hearing his name chanted frequently from the traveling Cubs faithful at Coors Field. Finishing a triple shy of the cycle, Baez reached 13 extra-base hits for the season in the contest, continuing his recent surge.
Javy chants at Coors Field pic.twitter.com/1BBdJvFW59— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) April 21, 2018
Looking refreshed after a week filled with off days, the Cubs appear to be figuring it out offensively, which bodes well as they aim to climb the National League Central standings in Denver this weekend. Game two of the three-game series will commence tomorrow at 6:10 PM MST, with the Cubs looking to accrue their first three-game winning streak of the season.
4/20: Cubs vs Rockies
Javy, Schwarber, Almora, oh my!Posted by Chicago Cubs Recaps on Friday, April 20, 2018