Happ shines as Cubs pluck Blue Jays
|Saturday, August 19, 2017, 6:02 PM- -|
CHICAGO – Producing one of the best performances of his young career, Chicago Cubs rookie and jack of all trades Ian Happ, who suited up at second base today, helped lead the Cubs past the Toronto Blue Jays in a back-and-forth affair in the Windy City on Saturday. Featuring quality pitching and a modest 14 combined hits, the 4-3 contest provided plenty of excitement, as each team made the most of the majority of its scoring opportunities en route to a Cubs victory.
The Cubs struck first, taking advantage of a shaky Nick Tepesch early on. Tepesch, a starting pitcher for the Blue Jays who was only just traded to the team a few weeks ago, walked and hit a batter in the first inning to place the Jays into a jam. Later in the first frame, Happ knocked in a run on a single to right, putting the Cubs up 1-0. Happ was one of the most proficient hitters for the Cubs on the afternoon, as the rookie slugger went 2-3 with two runs and two RBI.
For the Jays, the story of the early portion of the contest centered upon missed opportunities. In the top of the second, Toronto sported men on first and third with one out and failed to score. But, in the fourth inning, the Blue Jays were able to get to Cubs starter Jose Quintana, with the AL East squad accruing a quick single and double to begin the inning. Thereafter, former Cubs catcher Raffy Lopez provided his new team, the Blue Jays, with the lead on a two-run single to left-center.
Quality Q. pic.twitter.com/E7JR7MskcI— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 19, 2017
Happ quickly evened up to score at the start of the bottom half of the fourth, though, as the switch-hitter took Tepesch deep on a leadoff solo shot to left, his 18th bomb of the year. A few at-bats later, Tepesch was yanked, providing him with a stat line of five hits and two runs in 3.2 innings on the hill. The proceeding inning and a half featured little offense, with Quintana settling into a rhythm and Toronto's relief pitching holding its own.
The Cubs retook the lead in the bottom of the sixth, however, due to an instance of expert base-running by the hero of the game for Chicago, Ian Happ, who managed to make it home from second base on an infield single by Cubs shortstop Javier Baez.
In the following inning, Chicago was able to gain some breathing room, thanks to a clutch two-out single by first baseman Anthony Rizzo that scored outfielder Albert Almora, Jr., from second. The RBI single from Rizzo, which provided him with a total of 84 runs batted in on the year, proved to be a necessary insurance hit, as Chicago third baseman Kris Bryant committed a throwing error in the top of the eighth that eventually led to Toronto's Steve Pearce scoring on a two-out single to make the score 4-3. Despite making an impressive snag on a line drive toward third early in the game, Bryant actually suffered two errors on the day, bringing his season total to 12, which was his total for all of last season.
The Cubs held strong for the remainder of the matchup, though, as closer Wade Davis went three up, three down in the top of the ninth to secure the 4-3 Cubs win, earning Davis his 26th save of the season. Now 26 of 26 on save attempts this season, Davis is tied with former Cub Ryan Dempster for the franchise record of 26 consecutive converted saves. Baez had a hand in helping that accomplishment come to be by pulling off an impressive backhand catch and throw to first as part of one of the season's best web gems in the ninth inning.
5-6-3? ?? pic.twitter.com/aRXgNPcakw— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 19, 2017
Quintana (4-2) was credited with the win after throwing six innings of four-hit ball, and Toronto reliever Danny Barnes (2-4), who allowed the losing run for the Jays on the infield single from Baez, was handed the loss. The Cubs (65-57) will be looking to pull off a sweep of the Blue Jays (59-64) when the three-game interleague series wraps up tomorrow afternoon at Wrigley Field.