It appears the Pirates woke up Zorilla in the seventh inning of the opener at PNC Park. Ben Zobrist has been quite the force at the plate since Kyle Lobstein hit him with a pitch leading off the seventh inning of Monday’s game.
Zobrist is 6-for-15 over the last four games with a double, four home runs, two walks, six runs scored and 12 RBI. Zobrist followed up his first four RBI game in almost a calendar year on Thursday with perfect day at the plate. Zobrist went 2-for-2 on Friday afternoon with two home runs, two walks and four RBI.
Ben Zobrist has driven in the winning run in two of the last three games. And for the first time in his career, Zobrist has gone yard in three straight games.
Zobrist became the first Cubs player with three or more RBI in three straight games since Sammy Sosa (April 15-17, 2003) after he drove in three runs Wednesday and four runs in each of the first two games against the Nationals. And Friday was the sixth multi-home run game of Zobrist’s career. Four of Zobrist’s five longballs on the season have come in the last three games.
Zobrist enters play Saturday batting .277/.398/.489 with five doubles and five home runs for a .888 OPS. The switch-hitter has more RBI (24) than walks (20) or strikeouts (13) in 26 games.
Zobrist is one of Maddon’s favorite players and the Cubs’ skipper talked him up before Friday’s game. Joe Maddon said Zobrist’s winning attitude is infectious.
“You see it. You’re all around him. Everybody else sees it, too, especially the young guys. So there’s a residual positive impact just from being around him. It’s hard to quantify. He is this thing that spreads … almost like a good virus.”
Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo hit back-to-back jacks off Max Scherzer. And Zobrist has provided the protection for Rizzo in the lineup that Maddon was looking for earlier in the season.
Cubs Start and Run Differential
The Cubs improved to 22-6 on Friday afternoon with the 8-6 win over the Nationals. The Cubs are off to the best start of any National League team since Tommy Lasorda’s Dodgers began the 1977 season 22-6. The Cubs 22-6 mark after 28 games is the best record through the first 28 games of a season since the 2003 Yankees, who also started the year 22-6.
Buster Olney pointed out that the Cubs have “destroyed some bad teams” but are 7-1 against the Pirates, Cardinals and Nationals while outscoring the three contenders 43-19.
The Cubs have outscored opponents 172-74, a plus-98 run differential that according to Jayson Stark is the best run differential of any team through 28 games in the World Series era.
Anthony Rizzo over the last 15 games has a .327/.464/.836 slash line with a 1.300 OPS. Rizzo has hit seven home runs with 13 walks and seven strikeouts.
For the season, Rizzo is batting .257/.409/.644 with seven doubles, one triple and 10 home runs for a 1.053 OPS. Rizzo has 28 RBI in 28 games and more walks (22) than strikeouts (17).
According to the Sun-Times, Rizzo’s numbers started to turn last month when baseball luck did.
Miguel Montero took batting practice Thursday and said his back felt good Friday according to a report from Carrie Muskat. Montero is eligible to come off the disabled list May 10 (Tuesday). Before Friday’s game, he wasn’t sure when he will come off the DL. Montero doesn’t know if he will go on a rehab assignment yet.
Montero said he will “not rush it” and will take his time rehabbing the back injury because he obviously doesn’t want to hurt it again.
Muskat indicated he is progressing slowly from knee surgery “but has a good attitude.”
The Tribune reported earlier in the week that Schwarber recently had the stitches removed from his left leg.
Arismendy Alcantara led off the sixth inning of Friday’s game in Omaha with a triple, his third three-bagger of the season. And Alcantara put his name in the record books.
Arismendy Alcantara passed Billy Hatcher and Chico Walker on Iowa’s list for the most triples in franchise history. Alcantara recorded the 24th triple of his career Friday night with the Iowa Cubs.
Alcantara went 3-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored to run his season slash line to .258/.313/.438. Alcantara has four doubles, three triples and two home runs for a .751 OPS in 23 games.
Tim Lincecum held his long awaited showcase Friday at Scottsdale Stadium. And by all accounts, Lincecum looked good throwing in front of scouts from more than 20 teams.
Lincecum threw 41 pitches, sat in the 89-91 range and touched 92 with his fastball.
Alden Gonzalez spoke with a scout that thought Lincecum looked “healthy with similar stuff to before.” Gonzalez reported the scout said Lincecum’s “best days are behind him but he could be serviceable for sure.”
Gonzalez explained that Lincecum “would still need at least a month’s worth of Minor League starts before joining a rotation.” Lincecum is looking to sign with a team as a starting pitcher, not a reliever or a swingman.
News and Notes
• Joe Maddon weighed in with ESPN Chicago if Javier Baez and Jorge Soler are headed in opposite directions.
• Bruce Levine reported Joe Maddon includes all 25 players to win.
• Comcast SportsNet asked is Javier Baez the next Ben Zobrist.
• Dusty Baker can relate to the path Joe Maddon has Cubs on now according to ESPN Chicago.
• According to ESPN Chicago, Cubs’ bats break out in win over Nationals.
• The Cubs posted their highest ratings Thursday night on Comcast SportsNet in nearly seven years.
• Lefty Phil Coke is back in the majors. The Yankees placed C.C. Sabathia on the DL with a left groin strain and called up Coke on Friday to take his spot on the active roster.
This Day in Cubstory
2011 – Todd Wellemeyer voluntarily retired from the Cubs
2010 – Starlin Castro made his Major League debut and became the first player in the majors born in the 1990’s. Castro hit a home run in his first at bat off Homer Bailey in the Cubs 14-7 victory over the Reds. The 20-year old Castro became the first player to drive in six runs (six RBI) in his first game in the majors. Castro tripled with the bases loaded and hit a three-run homer to right field. Castro was 2-for-5 with a home run, a triple and six RBI in his Major League debut after being called up from Double-A Tennessee.
2009 – Pirates sent Anderson Machado to the Cubs
2008 – In a 9-0 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park, Jon Lieber joined Phil Norton (2000) as the second pitcher in franchise history to allowed four home runs in the same inning. Joey Votto, Adam Dunn, Paul Bako and Jerry Hairston Jr. (two former Cubs) all went deep in the second inning.
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Darren Oliver
1992 – Mets selected Chico Walker off waivers from the Cubs
1980 – Indians purchased Miguel Dilone from the Cubs
1959 – Cubs purchased Steve Ridzik from the Indians
1949 – Cubs selected Hank Edwards off waivers from the Indians
1942 – John Flavin, born
1932 – Dodgers purchased Danny Taylor from the Cubs
1918 – Al Epperly, born
1912 – Cubs purchased Red Downs from the Dodgers
1906 – Cubs selected Jack Harper off waivers from the Reds
1899 – Eddie Pick, born
1863 – Sam Shaw, born