Defense, pitching leads Cubs to series opening win over Royals
David Ross takes pride in his team’s defense.
After seeing some of the plays that David Bote and Javy Báez performed in Monday night’s win over the Royals he was left more than impressed.
“How ‘bout that?” Ross said. “The Javy tag and then, really, the plays that David Bote made and all those pop ups we talk about, like I know the wind was howling out there tonight, we’ve played really good defense, I’m proud of our defense.”
It was just one part of what might’ve been the Cubs most complete win in 2020.
Those defensive performances, quality starting pitching, timely offense and the bullpen led the Cubs to a 2-0 series opening win over the Royals.
“Well-played game from our part,” Ross said. “Well-pitched, the offense grinded. [Royals starter Danny] Duffy was throwing really well early on and it was a nice victory from us.”
Cubs starter Alec Mills threw well himself.
Mills pitched 7 innings of shutout ball, striking out 4 while allowing just 3 hits and 3 walks to pick up his 2nd win of the year.
Mills had this game circled. He was drafted by the Royals in 2012 and was traded to the Cubs in 2017.
“Tough to hold grudges and stuff, but it was a team that got rid of me a couple of years ago,” Mills said. “Understand the business, but my job is to make it hurt whenever I face them again. It took four years for it to happen, but I’m glad it did and just keep continuing the success going on is something I’ll be looking forward to.”
He was backed up by some timely hits.
Báez knocked in Nico Hoerner on sac fly in the 5th with the bases load to give the Cubs the lead.
In the 7th, Bryant crushed a low home run to left center field with the wind blowing in. Bryant — who entered Monday’s game slashing just .120/.241/.160 — had a 2-hit game, collecting a leadoff double in the 1st. Bryant dedicated the home run to his son.
“I don’t know; I never know when I hit a homer or not off the bat, otherwise I’d sit there and watch them,” Bryant said. “I knew it was in the gap. You keep it low in this stuff; it doesn’t affect it too much. So, I was messing around with that in BP. That was a great swing in this type of condition.”
Bote made a pair of web gems at third base and Báez’s trademark tag was on display as he nabbed Adalberto Mondesí stealing second.
The Cubs bullpen pitched another shutout, as Casey Sadler and Rowan Wick combined to allow just 2 hits in the final two innings. Wick picked up the 4-out save, his 2nd of the season. Wick elected to keep Wick in for the 9th to close it out.
“I think every night will be different,” Ross said. “I think every night we’re trying to find the best matchups and who’s throwing well.
“You have to factor in rest and guys that are pitching well. There may be some guys down some nights. It’s gonna be a full team effort down there. I’m not scared to pull the trigger in a lot of areas with a lot of those guys. Trying to match those guys up for success. They’ve done a really good job of answering the bell lately. We’ll continue to assess on a daily basis.”
Kyle Hendricks takes the mound Tuesday in the series finale at Wrigley Field. Coverage begins on Marquee Sports Network at 6 p.m.
The Cubs travel to Kansas City on Wednesday and Thursday for a two-game set.