After going through an offensive drought that lasted nearly two weeks, the Chicago Cubs are finally starting to show life again
Chicago had averaged just 3.2 runs in 12 games prior to Wednesday's 14-hit showing, and the Cubs will be hoping to ride their newfound momentum as they head to Minneapolis on Friday to open a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins
With its offense sputtering, Chicago went 3-9 during its 12-game cold spell before breaking out for a 10-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs' 14 hits were their most since recording 17 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 21
"We'd take this style of win every day," said Chicago catcher Yan Gomes, who went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs on Wednesday. "But I think what's consistent is our ability to put guys on, keep putting the pressure (on).
"I think we just stick with it. Hits are gonna come. (Wednesday), hits came."
But if the Cubs want to continue rolling, they will have to find a way to get to right-hander Sonny Gray (4-0, 1.35 ERA)
Gray currently boasts the best ERA in the American League and has allowed more than one run in only one of his seven starts this season. That one start just so happened to be his most recent outing, when he allowed three runs on four hits in five innings against the Cleveland Guardians last Saturday in a no-decision.
All three runs Gray allowed came in the fourth inning.
"If I'd get myself in situations throughout the year, first and third with one out or no out or this and that or runner on base, I've been able to make a big pitch and get out of the inning," Gray said following his start against Cleveland. "And (Saturday), even if it felt like you made a pitch, they just put a ball where we weren't, and then another walk."
In 10 career starts versus Chicago, Gray is 4-3 with a 3.11 ERA.
Left-hander Drew Smyly (3-1, 3.05) will oppose Gray after laboring through 3 1/3 innings of a 4-2 victory against the Miami Marlins last Saturday. He gave up two runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts as he failed to last long enough to qualify for the win.
In 16 career appearances (six starts) against the Twins, Smyly is 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA
Minnesota seems to be finding a bit of a rhythm, too, following up a three-game skid with back-to-back wins, including Thursday's 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.
However, designated hitter Byron Buxton has not been trending in the same direction as his club, as he is hitless in his last 22 at-bats.
Shortstop Carlos Correa was also scuffling, going just 5-for-36 (.139) over a nine-game stretch prior to Thursday's win. But he ripped a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning, and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli thinks that was a sign of things to come
"He comes up with the big moment for us (Thursday). That won't be the last one that we see," Baldelli said. "I wouldn't be surprised if this guy gets rolling and never looks back."
--Field Level Media