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Shota Imanaga, Cubs offense deliver in rain-filled win over mighty Dodgers

2 months agoAndy Martinez

The Cubs offense wasn’t going to pass up another opportunity to leave runs on the basepaths.

Mother Nature wasn’t going to stop them, either.

With the bases loaded in the 1st inning, Cubs rookie Michael Busch crushed a 2-out, bases-clearing double to the left-center field wall that gave the Cubs a lead they did not relinquish, even amidst a nearly 3-hour rain delay. The Cubs offense was hot before and after the elements struck, backing up another stellar start by Shota Imanaga in their 8-1 win over the Dodgers.

The Cubs took 2 of 3 from the Dodgers this weekend at Wrigley Field and now embark on a 9-game West Coast road trip having won 6 of their last 7.  

“This is a successful homestand, absolutely,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Five and one and you got a Dodger series mixed in there. Feel good about what we’ve accomplished and on to the next challenge.”

A day after squandering a pair of bases-loaded opportunities, the Cubs made sure that they wouldn’t come to rue those chances again. After Ian Happ reached on error to open the 1st, Dodgers starter Gavin Stone settled in and struck out Seiya Suzuki and Cody Bellinger. Christopher Morel laced a single to left field and Dansby Swanson coaxed a walk to load the bases for Busch.

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On a 2-2 count, Busch took an outside fastball the other way, roping a 96-mph bases-clearing double. It set the tone for the Cubs offense the rest of the — long — day.

“Anytime you have runners in scoring position you want to drive ‘em in,” Busch said. “But, just try to stick to my approach, no matter if there was somebody on or nobody on, just try to stick to my approach. Stone’s a very good pitcher, he’s got really good stuff. Just got to two strikes and just try to put a barrel on a pitch and happy to hit the gap.”

The Cubs scored in the first 4 innings of the game giving Imanaga more than enough of a cushion.

The rookie lefty was solid again, tossing 4 shutout innings with 3 punchouts and just 2 singles permitted before the rain stunted his outing. He has now tossed 10 shutout innings in his first 2 major league starts.

[MORE: Shota Imanaga gets the best of Shohei Ohtani in first matchup]

“It’s just a job well done and Mother Nature got in the way of it, but he pitched really well,” Counsell said. “His pitch count was certainly in a position for him to get deeper in the game today, but the rain just didn’t allow it.”

Before Imanaga’s final inning of work, the Wrigley Field grounds crew began throwing more dirt on the infield that was becoming water-logged. Imanaga needed just 4 pitches to get out of the inning. It would turn out to be his last, but it was nonetheless another impressive display.

“Since it’s only been 2 outings, I feel like the season is going to be really long,” Imanaga said through interpreter Edwin Stanberry. “It’s not necessarily anything to build confidence. I just want to make sure I stay healthy and be able to pitch the whole season.”

As the rain continued to pick up in the bottom of the 4th, the Cubs mounted another rally. Happ led off the frame with a double and Suzuki was hit by a pitch. At that point the grounds crew again came out and worked on the field for several minutes.

Then, Bellinger grounded out to first base and then Morel reached on an error by third baseman Miguel Rojas that plated another run. It was after that when crew chief Laz Diaz and the rest of the umpires called on a delay that lasted 2 hours, 51 minutes.

When play finally resumed at 5:34 p.m., Swanson beat out a double play on the first pitch to plate another run and make it 7-0.

Much of the 38,322 had left at that point, but those that remained made their presence known in the 6th inning. With two outs in the frame, Bellinger came up to bat and the remaining fans began chanting “Cody, Cody, Cody”. Bellinger delivered with a home run to right field, his second time this homestand performing the feat.

Notes

– The team placed RHP Julian Merryweather on the 15-day IL prior to the game with a right shoulder strain. Merryweather first felt the pain in his last outing on Friday, where he pitched 1.1 shutout innings against Los Angeles with a walk and 3 strikeouts.

“We’re hopeful,” Counsell said. “We’re gonna leave him back and do some imaging tomorrow. It’s a rhomboid strain which is kind of a little bit different for a pitcher.”

In his place, the Cubs recalled reliever Daniel Palencia. He picked up his first big-league save, striking out 2 and allowing a run on a walk and a hit in 3 innings of work.

Jameson Taillon (back) pitched 2.2 innings in a rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee. He allowed 4 runs, 3 earned, on 6 hits with 4 strikeouts and a walk.

Patrick Wisdom (back) had a pair of singles and a walk while manning the DH spot with Triple-A Iowa. It’s his second straight day playing on a rehab assignment. The I-Cubs are off on Monday.

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