By Richard Kagan
The Chicago Cubs rode Willson Contreras’ two run home run to break a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the 6th inning and Cubs beat St. Louis 5-3 before 41,000 + fans and a national TV audience last night.
Catcher Contreras’ drive off Michael Wacha of the Cards, just cleared the left-field wall. But it was enough to give the Cubs a 2 run lead which the Bull pen held up in some tense late innings. Wade Davis got his 20th save in 20 save chances this year. Chicago has now won eight of nine games after the All-Star break and they lead the slumping Brewers by mere percentage points in the NL Central.
Jose Quintana made his Cubs home debut and admitted after the game that he was feeling a lot of emotions. He’s happy to be with a contending team. He’s give the Cubs a needed shot in the arm. Quintana pitched six innings, struck out seven hitters, and gave up 2 home runs. He reached 100 pitches in the 6th inning and was less impressive than his debut versus the Orioles last week. But he made pitches when he had to, and pitched well, holding the opposing team to just three runs. The Cubs just had 5 hits in this game, but two were home runs, one by OF Kyle Schwarber that looked like a moon-shot as it came off his bat. He hit one deep to right field that disappeared as fast as it came off his bat. It was his 15th blast of the season. He is not hitting for average –yet. Just .181 for the year. He is struggling at the plate. His swing is powerful. And when ball connects with bat, the ball can go far. One hopes that he starts to use the entire field, and be content just getting on base. He doesn’t have to swing for the fences. Let Kris Bryant do that. Last night, he hit a drive to deep center that if hit 15 feet to the left, would have left the park.
Willson Contreras hit the big blow to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead, which the BP held up well. His hit cleared the left-field wall and fell into the waiting glove of a young boy. Contreras has been hitting ball very well in the last six of seven games. He has 15th home runs for the season and passed his career-high a few games ago.
Contreras made an excellent defensive play too, as he fielded a bunt and threw to second base to get the out. Javy Baez made a great play in applying the tag to the runner. He then threw to first base to complete the double-play. It’s plays like this that good teams make and the Cubs are making these plays more frequently.
Chicago had made up 5.5 games in less in two weeks. And, now there is a pennant race in the NL Central.