After tough start to series, Cubs offense salvages finale against Arizona
Dansby Swanson and the Cubs’ offense weren’t ready to panic after a couple of tough performances offensively.
“You can just say some breaks not going our way, even the first game, I thought we hit a lot of balls hard, just nothing to really show for it,” Swanson said after Saturday’s loss. “Just kinda one of things you really got to start plugging away and understand that we got just a couple of weeks left and all that matters is tomorrow and we’ll obviously come out tomorrow and be ready to roll.”
He was right.
The first pitch the Cubs’ saw was hit for a triple by Christopher Morel, and, while he didn’t score, it set the tone for what was to come. The Cubs hit 3 home runs in the 3rd inning, including back-to-back homers from Cody Bellinger and Swanson, en route to a 5-2 win over the Diamondbacks Sunday afternoon. The win gives the Cubs a 2-game cushion over Arizona for the second Wild Card spot in the NL.
“I thought we put some good some good swings today,” Swanson said after the win. “I feel like we’ve been, honestly, grinding away at it the last couple of days and just nothing really to show for it. Once again, it’s just one of those things where you gotta stay the course and continue to prepare and go out there and obviously compete. We did that today and it worked out for us.”
Morel, leading off for the Cubs’ in a slightly modified lineup given Arizona’s choice to use an opener in the series finale, laced a liner to right that went past Corbin Carroll in right field for a triple. He was tagged out on the next at-bat, when Nico Hoerner hit a soft comebacker to third-base side of the pitcher’s mound. Morel broke for home, stopped and was tagged out running back to third.
The Cubs were able to plate Hoerner, though. He stole second and scored on Seiya Suzuki’s double.
In the third, Morel made up for his baserunning gaffe by hitting a solo home run to left field. It was the beginning of a mini home run derby in the frame. Two batters later, Bellinger homered to right and Swanson followed with one to left after him. It was the 9th time this season the Cubs hit back-to-back home runs. The Cubs had a baserunner in every inning except the 7th on Sunday afternoon.
The Cubs added another run in the 5th on a Swanson RBI-single that plated Hoerner.
That was plenty of offense for Kyle Hendricks who looked pretty sharp for most of his 5.2 innings of work. He had 4 strikeouts in the first 2 innings and cruised through the first 4 innings, allowing just 2 hits. The Diamondbacks had 3 straight hits off of him in the 5th to plate a run, but a stellar double 7-4 double play by Ian Happ helped limit the damage.
“Huge, huge,” Hendricks said of Happ’s play. “They’re getting a little momentum there, getting a couple of hits in a row, guys on base, him to come in, make the play and double the guy off at second, really just shut down the inning, that was huge.”
Hendricks exited with 2 outs in the 6th, after allowing a run on 2 hits and a walk in the frame.
José Cuas escaped the jam and David Ross turned to Mark Leiter Jr., Hayden Wesneski and Julian Merryweather to close out the game.