CI Recap (7/4/18) – Cubs 5, Tigers 2: Contreras’ Power Surge, Team Defense and Base Running Secure 6th Straight Win

It was a sweltering Wrigley afternoon for the Fourth of July contest between the Cubs and Tigers. Sure, the 90-degree temperatures made it hot, but the Cubs exciting play made the park even hotter.

Nick Castellanos’ solo homer off a Jose Quintana curve initiated the scoring in the first inning. David Bote would match Castellanos by blasting a shot of his own — his first career homer — in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 1-1.

The 1-1 tie wouldn’t last long, as a John Hicks homer in the top of the third gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead. But fans who came out to Wrigley today were graced with another El Mago act. In the bottom of the fourth, Javy singled, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error, and stole home, all before a single out was recorded by the Tigers, tying the game at 2-2.

In the bottom of the sixth, Willson Contreras broke the 2-2 tie by sending a ball 430 feet into the left-field bleachers, Willy’s seventh blast of the season. Then in the seventh, Contreras added on by hitting a two-RBI double in the left field gap, putting the Cubs ahead 5-2.

Brandon Morrow came in the ninth to record the save, giving the Cubs a 5-2 victory and pushing their overall record to 49-35.

Why the Cubs Won

The star of the game is undoubtedly Willson Contreras, who knocked in three runs on a homer and double. But defense and base running once again helped the Cubs win, just like it’s done all season long. Today, we can point to El Mago’s stolen base party,  Addison Russell’s exceptional defensive play, or Albert Almora’s assist at home plate. No wonder the Cubs lead MLB in both FanGraph’s defensive and baserunning scores.

Key Moment

The El Mago Show was featured once again throughout this game. After singling to start the bottom of the 4th inning, Javy stole second on an attempted pickoff by Tigers pitcher Francisco Liriano, during which the Tigers first baseman threw the ball to left field in an effort to throw out Javy at second. Baez immediately sprinted to third base safely and, moments later, tied the game by stealing home using his trademark swim move.

Stats That Matter

  • The Cubs went 12 games without having a starting pitcher record a quality start before Jose Quintana locked one up today.
  • Quintana still struggled with his command, though. He walked three batters in six innings, but he still struck out four. His overall line was 6 IP, 2 ER, 2 HR, 5H.
  • Willson Contreras went 2-3 with a double, homer, and walk. His overall wRC+ for the season is now 126.
  • David Bote’s career start with the Cubs has been exceptional. After his first homer today, his wOBA is .317.
  • Victor Caratini returned to the lineup and went 0-1 with two walks.
  • Anthony Bass, Luke Farrell, and Brandon Morrow did not allow a run in relief of Quintana.

Bottom Line

The Cubs are now at a season-best 14 games over the .500 mark. Their offense is clicking despite Kris Bryant resting an ailing shoulder. Defense, base running, situational hitting, and a clutch bullpen has driven the Cubs’ six-game win streak.

On Deck

The Cubs have tomorrow off before welcoming the Cincinnati Reds, who have a top 4 National League offense by wRC+ (100), to Wrigley for a 1:20 PM game on Friday.

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