Javier Assad leads Cubs to impressive win in Toronto

2 months agoAndy Martinez

Cody Bellinger and the Cubs’ offense were the opening act.

Javier Assad and his dominant effort were the main attraction in Toronto.

The righty turned in a career-best performance allowing 1 run on 4 hits across 7 innings with 2 strikeouts and a walk and was buoyed by 3 runs before he even took the mound as the Cubs took the series opener against the Blue Jays 6-2.

“We went out there, we attacked the zone, we took it inning by inning, we took it batter by batter and it all worked out,” Assad said through translator Fredy Quevedo Jr. “It was definitely great to get the win.”

The Cubs — who have been terrific following a day off and improved to 11-3 in that department — showed their bats hadn’t cooled off in a series loss to the Mets. Nico Hoerner hit a solo home run with an out in the 1st and then after an Ian Happ single, Cody Bellinger hit his 18th home run of the season to extend the lead to 3-0 before Assad had fired a pitch.

That was plenty of support, though. Assad had a 1-2-3 inning to follow, then worked out of a 2-out, runners on first and second jam with a Daulton Varsho ground out to end the 2nd. The Cubs brought 7 hitters to the plate in the 4th, a 2-run double from Seiya Suzuki and an RBI-single from Mike Tauchman extended the Cubs’ lead to 6-0.

Definitely gives you a lot of confidence to go out there and attack the zone,” Assad said. “We have a great offense, so it was great to be up, basically all game and it was great to do well and win the game.”

The Blue Jays got to Assad in the bottom of the fourth, when Alejandro Kirk — who is from Tijuana, Mexico, like the Cubs’ righty — had an RBI-single. Assad, though, showed his moxie by retiring the next 10 batters he faced.

I thought he got ahead of a lot of hitters and especially when we got the lead he was pumping first pitch strikes, they were swinging, got a lot of early outs which allowed him to go deep in the game, never really in trouble there much at all,” manager David Ross said. “Just a really, really nice outing from him.”

Assad’s day was done after inducing a fly ball to Varsho that produced a diving catch by Happ in foul territory. Assad pitched a career-high 7 innings. In his last 11 outings, Assad has a 1.09 ERA and 0.94 WHIP across 33 innings for the Cubs.

Assad has been a revelation for the Cubs of late. When the Cubs needed length in the bullpen, he delivered. With the Cubs needing a starter with some struggles from Drew Smyly and an injury to Marcus Stroman, Assad has delivered there, too.

“Just in the last six weeks you’ve seen him in every kinda situation there is which you don’t see a lot of pitchers in baseball doing that these days,” Hoerner said. “This isn’t just a guy filling innings. This is a guy who’s throwing 94 with command of four pitches. It’s a legit mix. Not at all surprised by what he did today, but still impressive, for sure.

Over 162 to win enough games to go to the playoffs you need guys who can do different things. He’s really been huge for us.”

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