Chicago Cubs: Offense shines again, but Anthony Rizzo hurt

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Cubs’ offense beat up on the Pittsburgh Pirates again for another win. But the bigger issue might be Anthony Rizzo’s injury.

The good news on Sunday was that the Chicago Cubs’ offense again was on fire as the team again took care of business against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The win may have come at a big cost.

The Cubs beat the Pirates 16-6 to complete the three-game sweep and win their fourth straight game overall. But Anthony Rizzo had to leave the game after rolling his ankle trying to field an infield hit in the third inning. X-rays revealed that there is no fracture, but there is a sprain, and we’ll know more about the severity of the injury on Monday when Rizzo has an MRI.

Losing Rizzo for any length of time would be a devastating blow to a team that is already dealing with injuries to Javier Baez and Craig Kimbrel, especially after Rizzo had recently settled in nicely as the team’s leadoff hitter again. If he has to miss significant time, expect Ian Happ or Victor Caratini to get much of the playing time at first base. But again, we’ll learn more on Monday.

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Rizzo’s injury made an ugly top of the third inning even worse. Kris Bryant hit a three-run home run in the first inning to give the Cubs a quick 3-0 lead, and it looked like they would continue their roll from Saturday’s 14-1 win. Instead, Rizzo’s injury was part of a five-run inning for the Pirates in which Jose Quintana was pulled after recording just seven outs. We have to be concerned about Quintana, as it was his third straight subpar outing.

Thankfully, the offense did not let up, as the Cubs responded to the Pirates’ five-spot with a five-run rally of their own that included Bryant’s second home run. Happ (replacing Rizzo at first), Kyle Schwarber, and Jonathan Lucroy later homered, while Nicholas Castellanos continued his hot hitting with three hits, including two doubles. The Cubs scored in every inning but the second.

We also have to give props to the bullpen for mostly holding the Pirates down after the third inning. First, Brad Wieck was able to strike out two to get out of that third inning. Then, Tyler Chatwood came in to provide three quality innings, allowing just one run. David Phelps, Pedro Strop, and James Norwood also worked in this game.

With two weeks to go in the regular season, the Cubs need every win they can get, and anything short of a sweep against the lowly Pirates would have been a disappointment. Thankfully, they were able to come through. And with the Cardinals losing, the Cubs are now two games back in the NL Central (and still one game ahead of the Brewers for the second Wild Card spot.)

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The Cubs are still in good shape with two weeks to go, but things will get a little tighter in their next series against the Cincinnati Reds, as they’ll have to face both Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo. Let’s also hope that Rizzo doesn’t miss much time.

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