Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: This weekend’s Cards-Cubs series looks like ’16 team

Jun 3, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber (12) hits a grand slam home run during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber (12) hits a grand slam home run during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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For the first two months of the 2017 season, the Chicago Cubs have massively underachieved. But this weekend, they started to look like the world champion Cubs of last year.

On Friday and Saturday, like so many of the games so far this year, the Chicago Cubs fell behind early. Dexter Fowler rudely greeted his former teammates with a moonshot to lead off on Friday and Jose Martinez hit a two-run single in the first inning Saturday. The Cubs, however, just kept fighting.

Kris Bryant answered back in the opener, hitting a home run in the bottom of the third, cutting the lead in half. Jason Heyward tied the score three innings later with a double. He later pushed across the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.

On Saturday, the Cubs looked dead for most of the game – until the seventh inning.  Heyward and Willson Contreras posted back-to-back one-out hits. Jon Jay got hit by a pitch with two outs, bringing up Kyle Schwarber with the bases loaded. Schwarber absolutely unloaded on a baseball for his first career grand slam, posting the final margin of 5-3.

And, in case you forgot, Ian Happ practically singlehandedly led the charge Sunday, clubbing two long-balls in the finale. When your rookie steps up like this, good things usually happen.

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For much of the season, the Cubs have not been getting clutch hits, or getting the big outs via shutdown innings.  It always seemed like when the Cubs scored, they gave it right back the next inning, and maybe some more.  This series, that has not been happening.  The Cubs are getting big, key outs,, and are just not going away like they did for so much of 2016.

Time to compare, in 2016, the Cubs as a team walked 10.4 percent of the time, which was the highest rate in baseball.  Now, in 2017, the Cubs are walking 10.1 percent of the time, which is tied for the third-highest rate in baseball.  The difference this season, is the Cubs BABIP is .274, the fourth-worst mark in baseball.  Last year, it was .302, which was the 13th-best mark in the big leagues.  The Cubs have been flat-out unlucky this year.

Next: Don't give up on Schwarber just yet

If this series was any indication, the Cubs of last year may be slowly returning.  Yes, yes, it’s a new season.  But, it is primarily the same Cubs team on paper, and there is no reason to think that Chicago won’t make a run at some point.  Could this be the start of that run? This is as good of a time as any.

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