So what’s so great about this Padres team, anyway?
They came to Chicago with the best record in the National League, winning 16 of their last 20 games, and faced a pitcher who hadn’t pitched a big league pitch since 2019.
And all the Cubs did was tear them down with five home runs and some great throws from that pitcher, Kohl Stewart, winning the first in a three-game series 7-2.
The Padres scored first, in the second inning, in part thanks to a throwing error from Javier Baez. Stewart came out of a jam with a double play ball, then Javy was able to make up for that mistake in the third inning.
With two strikeouts, Kris Bryant hit a ball that Jurickson Profar dived for, but failed to catch. He rode to ivy for a triple, KB’s first of the year.
This bullet has been completely demolished:
The lead was extended by a run in the fourth, courtesy of Patrick Wisdom [VIDEO].
Stewart completed the fifth inning and was then called out for a pinched hitter. He threw an efficient 64 pitches, allowed three hits and an undeserved run, walked one and struck out a pair. It was almost certainly what David Ross was hoping for – a great first outing as a Cub. He’ll have at least one more start and he certainly deserved a longer look. Stewart was once a No. 1 draft pick – he was selected in 2013 by the Twins two picks after the Cubs took on KB – so there’s talent there. He is only 26 years old. Maybe the Cubs found someone useful in the junkyard.
Sergio Alcantara was Stewart’s PH, and he hit a right center ball for his first hit. One exit later, Bryant brought him home [VIDEO].
Good. Wil Myers had a beer shower trying to catch this ball, which landed in the basket. I don’t think it was intentional – the fan looked like he was trying the ball – but it reminded me of that famous 1959 World Series photo sequence:
Bryant’s home run was 5-1. Keegan Thompson relieved Stewart and gave Fernando Tatis Jr. a solo homerun that brought San Diego to within three points. It was the first deserved race that Thompson had allowed this year; he has now pitched 17 MLB innings.
The Cubs weren’t done hitting home runs either. With one in the sixth, Wisdom again [VIDEO].
It was the first of two Wisdom home runs in his career and he now has three in his last five. You know, Wisdom was also a former No. 1 draft pick (52nd overall, compensation round) by the Cardinals in 2012. There’s talent there and he can play multiple positions (third base, first base, outside corner field). When the Cubs’ injured players start to come back, there is a real case to keep Wisdom for awhile. Once again, Jed Hoyer and his scouts seem to have found something good on the junkyard.
Ready for another highlight of the circuit? Javy again, in the seventh [VIDEO].
Unlike the first, it was a majestic flying balloon (check the launch angle):
Javier Báez Homers (13): balloon flying towards CF (solo)
Hit: 397ft, 110 mph, 40 °
[2nd of game]
Steps: 91.1mph Four-seam Fastball (RHP Nabil Crismatt, 2)
– Home shopping tracking (@DingerTracker) May 31, 2021
Andrew Chafin and Tommy Nance were the Cubs’ last pitchers of the game, both dropping hitters without incident. Well, there was an “incident” in the eighth, when Chafin induced what appeared to be a late inning double play ball where the second withdrawal was canceled during the exam [VIDEO].
It ended up having no impact when Chafin pulled Tatis out to complete the round.
I have to say when I saw Nance pitch in spring training he looked like ‘the guy who throws the last inning just because we need someone’. But he’s been very, very impressive in the big leagues. That gives Nance 6⅔ scoreless innings, with two hits and two walks allowed (0.600 WHIP) and eight strikeouts. He throws hard – you can see the last throw came in at 97 – and seems to have a good mound presence.
Once again: The Cubs have found someone useful in the junkyard. Good for Jed Hoyer’s baseball operations team. And again, when some of the Cubs’ injured pitchers are ready to come back, Nance looks like a keeper.
The Cubs made a statement Monday afternoon, unabashed by the team with the best record in the league, and won decisively. They end the month of May with a record of 19-8. This is only the eighth time in franchise history that the Cubs have won at least 19 games in May, and the first time since 1977. Here are the other seven:
Hopefully this excellent May will continue into June. The Cubs are, once again, currently tied for first place in the NL Central with the Cardinals, awaiting the St. Louis game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, which begins at 8:10 p.m. CT.
The Cubs have a shot at winning a Tuesday night streak with Kyle Hendricks – who has been awesome lately – on the mound. Ryan Weathers is expected to start for the Padres – a southpaw, and the Cubs are 12-3 against the LH starters so far this year. Game time on Tuesday is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.