Going Streakin’–Cubs 2 Royals 0
Monday at 10:55 pm
It is cliche to say that a team needs to get off to a good start in baseball, but in the condensed season a strong start was always going to be a huge plus. The Cubs found a way to win another ballgame and this win rhymed with yesterday’s lack of offense. The Cubs were outhit by their opponent once again and the bullpen delivered some strong innings.
The key though has been the starting staff. Alec Mills delivered seven innings of shutout ball and the Cubs may have found something there. Mills did not have a clean inning until the fifth, but he finished strong retiring the side in order to close out his night. The length was important because it meant just six outs were needed from the shaky bullpen, but a few arms emerge as potential high leverage options in 2020.
The Royals were able to threaten a few times in the early innings, but Mills found the pitches needed time after time. The Cubs did the same against Danny Duffy. Kris Bryant led off the game with a double, but the Cubs couldn’t advance him. The Cubs reached base at least once through the four innings. Duffy was equal to the task keeping the score level at zero.
The fifth inning has been Danny Duffy’s trouble spot so far in 2020 and that popped up once again tonight. Duffy walked two and allowed a bloop hit to load the bases with no outs. Anthony Rizzo hit a pop up for the first out. Javier Báez hit a solid line drive into right that was deep enough for Nico Hoerner to score on. Duffy was able to retire the next four batters to hand a 1-0 game to his bullpen in the seventh.
Ian Kennedy pitched the bottom of the seventh inning after Mills finished the top of the inning again without conceding a run. Kennedy induced two easy outs to start the inning, but Kris Bryant hit a long low drive just into the seats to double the Cubs lead.
Casey Sadler struck out Brett Phillips to start the eighth and induced a groundout from Whit Merrifield for a second out. Jorge Soler hit a solid single to extend the inning. Rowan Wick was summoned to finish the inning. Ryan O’Hearn struck out swinging to finish the inning. Wick was given the ninth inning with Kimbrel’s struggles. Franchy Cordero hit a one out single, and did advance all the way to third on some questionable baserunning decisions. However, it was all for naught with Maikel Franco popped out to Rizzo and Alex Gordon did to Báez to end the game.
The Cubs defense sparkled throughout the evening. The starting staff has rolled along like it was 2016, but the Cubs defense might be the thing that is most like 2016. David Bote made several plays at third and Javier Báez displayed some of his tagging magic once again. But there is no way that the reference couldn’t be the Cubs own Mr. Sparkle.
Kris Bryant announced his return with his first blast of 2020. The Cubs left fielder tonight found the seats through the wind in the seventh inning. It was a key run to double the Cubs lead late. And for at least a bit longer we get to revel in the fact that we have Kris Bryant and others do not.