Zobrist homers off foul pole as Cubs trump Brewers
|Sunday, April 8, 2018, 5:18 PM- -|
MILWAUKEE — The first full week of the MLB season featured a troublesome showing by the Cubs' starting rotation. The second full week was much kinder to Chicago's starters, as evinced by a promising performance in the North Siders' four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Claiming their third victory in the four-game affair on Sunday, the Cubs were boosted by a commanding effort on the hill from starter Jose Quintana, riding an early homer by Ben Zobrist to a 3-0 shutout at Miller Park.
A far cry from his miserable six-run performance in his first start of the season, Quintana was dominant against the Brewers, striking out six and allowing just three hits in six innings pitched. The Cubs controlled the matchup from start to finish, as highlighted by a spectacular pick-off throw by catcher Willson Contreras that outed the Brewers' Lorenzo Cain at first base in the opening inning.
The Brewers mustered only three hits and two walks overall, with Chicago's bullpen finishing what Quintana started in the final three innings. At the plate, the Cubs scored two runs off of Brewers starter Chase Anderson, with the first run coming via a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth. Anderson received the loss on the day, falling to 0-1 overall.
With his first bomb of the year, Ben Zobrist of the Cubs pulled a 390-foot home run to right, hitting the right foul pole in the process. Zobrist, who went 2-4 on the afternoon, continued his string of successes batting against Anderson, as he is now 9-17 with three homers in his career against Anderson.
The Cubs went up 2-0 in the following inning, when outfielder Albert Almora, Jr., picked up his second RBI of the year on a double to right that scored Jason Heyward. Heyward earned a one-out walk earlier in the inning and was then advanced to second on a risky bunt by Quintana that gave the Cubs two outs in the innings. The move by Cubs skipper Joe Maddon paid off, with Almora, Jr., coming through in the clutch.
The Brewers wasted an auspicious opportunity to score a run in the bottom half of the sixth, accruing a lineout and a strikeout in consecutive at-bats to end the inning after having men reach first and second with one out. Chicago took advantage soon afterward, scoring a run off of Brewers reliever Taylor Williams in the top of the seventh.
First, Victor Caratini, who started in place of the injured Anthony Rizzo for the third straight game, hit a one-out single, which was followed up by a single to left from Heyward. Fitting with a theme of the Brewers' series against the Cubs, Milwaukee suffered yet another costly error on Sunday. Milwaukee first baseman Jesus Aguilar misplayed a grounder by Tommy La Stella that enabled Caratini to score in the seventh, putting Chicago up 3-0 in the seventh.
Chicago had another opportunity to score in the eighth, as Contreras tripled toward the wall in center with one out. However, he was left stranded. Nevertheless, Cubs closer Brandon Morrow earned his second straight save, going three up, three down in the bottom of the ninth. Quintana earned the win to move to 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA. As for the Cubs, they improved to 5-4 overall, dropping the Brewers to 5-5 on the season.