The Cubs began the series against the Diamondbacks with a strong starting pitching effort and solid offensive showing en route to an easy win on Monday. The formula was the same for game two in the three-game set, but the offense turned it up a notch.
The Northsiders jumped on Diamondbacks’ starter Matt Andriese in the top of the 1st inning. Daniel Murphy singled and advanced to third on a throwing error from catcher Jeff Mathis. Anthony Rizzo worked an epic 17-pitch at-bat before finally lining out to short. The battle must have tired Andriese because Javy Baez followed with a long two-run homer to right center.
The offense for the Cubs exploded after Javy’s two-run homer. In the second inning, Ian Happ doubled home a run and scored when Murphy homered to make it 5-0. All that run support was more than enough for Mike Montgomery who was excellent Tuesday. Monty only allowed a single run in six strong innings of work.
The Cubs finished the scoring in the 5th inning against Jake Diekman and Silvino Bracho. Rizzo singled home two runs, while Albert Almora and Willson Contreras picked up RBI’s. Alec Mills and Brandon Kintzler mopped up the final three innings of the Chicago romp. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
The D-Backs went with a bullpen day against the Cubs after losing Clay Buchholz to injury. Arizona has had ‘pen issues of late and the Cubs wasted no time doing big damage to it.
Rizzo’s long 17-pitch battle pretty much sapped the strength of the spot starter Andriese in the first inning.
Stats That Matter
- Montgomery looked as sharp as he has all year: 6 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 8 K, and 1 BB. His eight strikeouts marked a season-high and his changeup was particularly nasty.
- Daniel Murphy finally showed signs of life with the bat, he added a walk to his two hits.
- Jason Heyward returned to the lineup with a double and a very hard groundout. He was pulled in the 5th inning probably because Joe Maddon wants to ease him back into the fold.
- Willson Contreras is starting to drive the ball with authority. He only had one hit, but he hit several rockets.
The Cubs magic number is down to 8 after the Brewers lost. In order for Milwaukee to even have a shot at the division, they have to be nearly perfect for the reason of the season.
For the Brewers to tie the Cubs in the NL Central, the following W-L has to happen:
Cubs 7-4, Brewers 10-0
Cubs 6-5, Brewers 9-1
Cubs 5-6, Brewers 8-2
Cubs 4-7, Brewers 7-3
Cubs 3-8, Brewers 6-4
Cubs 2-9, Brewers 5-5
Cubs 1-10, Brewers, 4-6
— Brendan Miller (@brendan_cubs) September 19, 2018
More importantly, the Chicago offense looks much better than it had the past week.
The Cubs look for the three-game sweep Wednesday at 8:40 pm CT. Cole Hamels takes on fellow lefty Robbie Ray in a contest aired on NBC Sports Chicago.