The Chicago Cubs‘ offense finally awoke from hibernation. Now we’ll just have to see whether this was a one time thing, or a group of young hitters finally starting to figure things out.
Just how much better was the Cubs’ offense on Sunday, in their 8-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies compared to the rest of the season? Chicago scored its season high in runs in a game… in the first inning.
The Cubs had not scored more than three runs in any of their first five games this year but they managed to score four in the bottom of the first thanks in large part to wildness by AJ Burnett. Clearly, not all of the offensive woes are over, as the team actually scored more runs than they recorded hits on Sunday (six). The four runs were accomplished on just two hits, thanks to two walks.
Ryan Kalish took advantage of Emilio Bonifacio walking to lead off the game, when he blasted a Burnett pitch off the top of the ivy and turned it into an RBI triple. That shot, which was just shy of a home run, was Kalish’s first hit and first RBI as a Cub. The onetime top Boston Redsox prospect added a double and two more RBI on the day.
The rest of the Cubs’ team looked like they were all feeding off of Kalish’s big day, finally coming up hits in clutch situations and actually taking advantage of their opponent’s mistakes. Perhaps best of all was a patience at the plate the team really hadn’t been displaying in their first five games. On Sunday, the Cubs drew a season high seven walks while cutting way down on the strikeouts (just five).
Carlos Villanueva, who had been a bit maligned to start the year after being saddled with two losses in relief got his first win of the season. While he wasn’t dominant, he was effective in his five innings pitched. Villanueva allowed just one run on six hits thanks in large part to the fact that he didn’t walk a batter. The swing-man also struck out three.
Sunday’s win was the second of the year and the second time in a row that came on the last day of a series. Now the Cubs need to take confidence from the victory and actually win a series opener.