The Chicago Cubs picked up a series road win on Sunday, but lost their star third baseman after he was hit by a pitch in the face in the top of the first inning.
The series finale between the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies got off to an inauspicious start Sunday afternoon at Coors Field. The third batter of the game, Kris Bryant, took a 96 MPH fastball off the forehead – ending his afternoon before it really began.
Rockies starter German Marquez let a heater fly up and in and hit Bryant under his helmet bill and above his sunglasses. The slugger walked toward the dugout under his own power before being helped off the field by Joe Maddon and the Cubs’ training staff. Initial reports indicate all tests have come back clear for concussions. But a trip to the disabled list isn’t out of the question.
Chicago (10-9) went for revenge with the bats, scoring six runs in the first three innings. After Bryant got hit, Tommy La Stella played a run with an RBI single. Kyle Schwarber added a run-scoring knock and Victor Caratini got in on the fun, hanging three runs on the board before Jose Quintana took the mound.
Baez stays hot at the dish
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
Javier Baez stayed hot, driving in the fourth run of the game in the second with a solo blast – his seventh of the year. Before the afternoon drew to a close, the Chicago infielder drove in three runs and collected a pair of hits. He leads all of Major League Baseball with 23 RBI.
A two-run single from Jason Heyward added even more cushion to the Cubs’ lead in the third. Heyward finished the day with another solid performance – going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a walk.
Quintana kept the Rockies off the board till the bottom of the third. With the Cubs on top 6-0, Trevor Story hit a ball to Heyward in right. He lost it in the sun and two runs scored, as Story raced around to third.
In the bottom of the fifth, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado went back-to-back, each popping solo homers, cutting the Chicago lead to two at 6-4. Both teams traded a trio of runs in the seventh, ratcheting things up even further at 9-7.
Defense wins championships – and games
Before we get to the incredible finish – let’s all tip our caps. Albert Almora made a trio of spectacular catches in center field, probably preserving the win with his outstanding defense. One of those catches came in the bottom of the ninth.
With closer Brandon Morrow on the mound, Blackmon drove a ball to deep center. Almora raced back, making the catch and running full-speed into the center field wall for the first out. Back-to-back singles brought the winning run to the dish and then a walk to David Dahl loaded the bases.
Ian Desmond, who has struggled mightily since signing his deal with Colorado, stepped in. Morrow, ahead in the count, uncorked a wild pitch that bounced away from Willson Contreras, who entered the game late as a defensive replacement.
Contreras ran it down and threw to Morrow, who covered home and put the tag down on Arenado, who tried to score from third. Maddon immediately challenged the initial ‘safe’ ruling – and it was overturned, giving Chicago the series win.
A milestone for Quintana
Quintana allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings of work. But, really, I’d look at it as a better start than that. The two solo homers were the real damage – as the two other runs came on Heyward missing a ball in the sun.
On the other hand, Almora bailed him out with the aforementioned trio of amazing defensive plays. But the real highlight for Q came early, when he notched the 1,000th strikeout of his career. Accomplishing the feat, he is the first Colombian-born player to achieve this milestone.