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Willson Contreras, Ben Zobrist return as Cubs overpower Mariners


by - Senior Writer -
Making his first start in the big leagues since early May, Ben Zobrist scored two runs and showed out in the field. (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
Making his first start in the big leagues since early May, Ben Zobrist scored two runs and showed out in the field. (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO — The glorious returns of Chicago Cubs (75-63) stars Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist and an emphatic bat drop by Kyle Schwarber highlighted the final interleague contest of the season for the Cubs. Taking on the Seattle Mariners (58-82) at Wrigley Field in the finale of a 2-game set, the North Siders tallied three home runs and were led by a 3-for-3 plate performance by Schwarber. Winning 6-1, the Cubs wrapped up a 4-0 sweep of the season series versus the Mariners.

A few days after officially returning to the Cubs from a leave of absence that spanned nearly four months, Zobrist took part in a big-league game for the first time since May 6. When stepping up to the plate for the first time, Zobrist, who started at second base and batted leadoff off the night, received a standing ovation from the fans at the Friendly Confines. Although Zobrist struck out in his first at-bat, overall, he went 1-for-3 with one walk, scored two runs and pulled off multiple stellar defensive plays.

As for Contreras, who missed exactly one month due to a strained hamstring, his return to the batting order was quite memorable, with the backstop going yard in his first plate appearance of the evening after getting activated off the injured list earlier in the day. Smashing a 450-foot blast out to left-center, Contreras put the Cubs on the scoreboard to start off the bottom of the second. Later in the contest, Contreras nearly hit another bomb when he skied a towering shot that was only just foul down the left-field line.

Zobrist drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the third and then advanced to third base on a double by Schwarber. Nicholas Castellanos proceeded to usher Zobrist home with a sacrifice fly to right field, thus putting the Cubs ahead by two runs. Making his mark as the leadoff man again in the in the bottom of the fifth, Zobrist laid down a perfect bunt for a single that kicked off the bottom of the fifth. Schwarber recorded a base hit after that, and Castellanos followed that up with a 3-run blast to right field. The opposite-field jack provided the Cubs with a commanding 5-0 advantage. A few innings afterward, Schwarber hammered a 412-foot no-doubter into the right-field bleachers in the first at-bat of the bottom of the seventh and punctuated the dinger with a dramatic dropping of the bat.

Meanwhile, Jon Lester started on the mound for the Cubs, and he dominated under pressure throughout his six innings of work. On three separate occasions, Lester collected an inning-ending strikeout with the bases loaded. In total, Lester struck out nine in his scoreless outing, as he showed up Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who lasted just three innings on the bump. The Mariners went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men stranded on base over the course of their loss. Furthermore, the lone run scored by the M's should not have even counted.

With two outs and runners on first and second in the top of the eighth, the Mariners' Daniel Vogelbach hit a single to left that would have normally scored the speedy Dee Gordon with ease. However, Braden Bishop, who was on first base at the time of Vogelbach's single, rounded second base just far enough for Schwarber to try his luck at gunning him down. Schwarber succeeded in doing so, as Zobrist applied a tag on Bishop before he could slide back in safely, thereby ending the half-inning. Interestingly, the tagout appeared to occur before Gordon stepped on home plate, but a review of the play confirmed the call of the out taking place after the run scored.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon argued the ruling, but the umpires decreed that it was too late for Maddon to challenge the call, even though Maddon likely assumed that the umpire-initiated review was examining all aspects of the play and not just the tagout at second base. Aside from the fact that it ruined the Cubs' shutout opportunity, the gray area surrounding the controversial call did not come back to bite the Cubs, as the Mariners went down in order in the bottom of the ninth. With the 6-1 victory in the books, the Cubs will enjoy an off day on Wednesday before having to play 18 games in 18 days.

Seattle Mariners at Chicago Cubs
Sep 3, 2019 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Seattle (58-82) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 9 1
Chicago (75-63) 0 1 1 0 3 0 1 0 - 6 8 0
W: Jon Lester (12-9) L: Felix Hernandez (1-5)

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